That Interweb thingy...

To change tack a little, I would like to talk about a more technical issue regarding this blog.

I know that there is a very limited readership of this blog. That is why we really enjoy when people take the time to leave comments. Having a disability often limits our social interaction. This is one reason we believe that the Internet is a huge boon to disabled people.

As a wee aside; A lot is often made of the concept of anonymity on the Internet. As someone who is fairly computer literate, I can categorically state that this is a myth. While it is technically possible to obscure your true identity, there are always traces left behind. However, it may take the resources of law enforcement agency, a country's government or a wealthy corporation to access those traces.

But to get back on subject: Having a relatively anonymous outlet to respond to the world is a prize that shouldn't be underestimated.

A lot is made of the 'seedy' side of the Internet and while this cannot be denied, it is an 'easy target' for lazy journalists and sensation seeking commentators. One need only look at newspapers, television or radio to easily see the same 'seedy' behavior there.

I honestly enjoy the opportunity of having this blog 'out there' 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - WORLDWIDE! So that someone looking for something such as Write Disability can find it.

...And it is our goal to make Write Disability even more well known.

I thought it was about time I introduced you to my novel, which has the working title of "10/12". 10/12 is based on the events of September the 11th, 2001 (9/11); where Al Qeada terrorists' flew full passenger airliners into the twin towers of the U.S. World Trade Center; the Pentagon and finally crashed a fourth passenger airliner into Pennsylvania farm land.

At the time of the actual attacks, we had a guest asleep in the spare room and I could not sleep so I hopped on my computer and went into a chatroom. Someone typed that a plane had flown into a building, thinking it was an accident I took no further notice. A while later another person said that a second plane had also been flown into another building, with another 27 planes thought to be hijacked too; America was under attack! In fact, some people went one step further and were saying that World War 3 had begun.

It took another three hours of searching for media outlets outside the U.S. to verify the attacks and while there were only four plane involved the destruction was mind numbing. The footage of the World Trade Centers' collapsing are a sight I will never forget. It is an iconoclastic image, like U.S. President John F. Kennedy being so publically assassinated.

The basis for the novel takes a simple premise: What if?

The novel itself entailed a massive amount of research. Out of respect for the over 3000 men and women that died because of the attacks, I fealt it was extremely important to get the indisputable facts as accurate as possible.

The novel weaves many sub-plots into the main plot. For example, the main character, Ben Asher, was a secret service agent, one sub-plot describes how he left 'the service' and how it shaped the personality he has. Another sub-plot describes how Ben and his sister Diane are reunited after years of estrangement.

I don't want to give away the entire plot of 10/12 but the novel throws in several twists that will leave you guessing until the very end... Maybe even beyond...
Oh yeah...

I think I should tell you something very simple, but 'kept me going' when writing my novel.

As I have written, having an outline was an absolute must. Not only was it a quick way to improve my novel, it was also a way to remind me of where I wanted to go with it.

But the thing that really pushed me, the thing that made me keep to it, was the end of the novel, the final story, the thing that would tie it all together.

I didn't just skip to the end and write from that point backwards, even though I wanted to at times, I didn't.

I am glad I didn't too, because it made the process much more dynamic, much more fluid, easily being able to change the book.

That is important because had I started by writing the end of the novel, I may have limited myself to an ending which could have been better.

Re-writing the ending is one way to go, I guess you could say I have done that anyway, but the outline is only a tool to keep you on target, not a definitive manuscript.
How to outline a novel

Some time ago I wrote this piece for another blog, because I feel it is pretty good (if I do say so for myself), I think it is time to re-publish it.

Swahili proverb

Q. How do you eat an elephant?

A. One bite at a time.
When I speak to people, often the conversation will drift to writing, they usually say something to the effect of how they have been thinking of writing a book for years. Before I wrote my book I thought that too.

One day, spurred on by a idea that excited me, I just sat down and wrote an outline for the book I was thinking of.

There are several different techniques for writing a book, this is mine, it's called 'The Watson method'. This method focuses on writing a novel, a work of fiction.

Ok, you have an idea, but that only takes up half a page at best, how on earth do you get an even halfway decent book out of that? Writing a book can seem a daunting, herculean task, but like all journeys (and that's what it is) it must begin with a single step.

One of the biggest problems I've noticed with starting writers is the fact that they just don't know where, or how, to begin. Or more to the point, they THINK they don't know.

You see, one of the most fundamental hurdles to overcome is to put pen to paper (or finger to key) and keep it there. Like most things, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. So let's start with the basics.

Start: The idea stage:

My idea is to write a book about a man that goes to live on Jupiter.

That's a start, now we need to break that idea down further:

  1. Define your main character (we'll call the hero 'Joe')
  2. Background
  3. Goal
  4. Doing it
  5. Wrapping the story up

Now you've written down the skeleton of your idea, now to put some muscles on those bones:

Don't forget the basics, who, what, when, why and how, answer these questions and you'll help the reader 'get their mind around' the book.

  1. Boring old life, dead-end job, has always wanted to go to space.

  2. Firmly believes, contrary to common opinion, that Jupiter is habitable. As a boy, he and his father were keen astronomers. Joe realizes although his Dad loved space, he was always too scared to follow his dream. Joe sees himself becoming like his father.

  3. His Dad dies, starts Joe thinking, he starts to build his spaceship after work and in the weekend

  4. Neighbors, family think he is crazy, the Government starts to poke around

  5. A few people start to take him seriously, he is interviewed on TV/magazines

  6. Joe gets a crew (describe each crew member), prepares for life on Jupiter (describe the preparations)

  7. Day of launch, sabotage by a Government agent, Joe looks like a fool. Needs to make expensive and time consuming repairs.He has quit his job and has little in the way of money. A the last moment a secret benefactor comes forward and gives him all they money he needs.

  8. New take-off, again the press, citizens are gathered around. The newly invented anti-gravity engines hum into life. The scene switches to a reporter describing the scene for a radio station, the large, spherical spaceship (dubbed, 'the Baseball') lifts off. It raises a meter into the air then crashes back down into the ground. Doing considerable damage. The failure is confusing, a part is missing, an important part that Joe remembers placing in the guidance system himself. There is a saboteur around, in the crew, Joe finds the saboteur and kicks him off the team. The billionaire benefactor hires a professional security team to guard the site all day every day.

  9. A lot of scientist come forward to show how anti-gravity drives could never work. The third launch is done in secret, a night and with no spectators or media. Joe reveals a secret that was given to him by the benefactor, a cloaking devise that not only renders the 'baseball' invisible to the human eye, but also any sort of tracking. They take-off and go into geo-synchronous orbit. Next destination, the Moon. To build a base, as practice for Jupiter. You build the base in secret, returning to earth each second day to not arouse suspicions.

  10. The moonbase is easily completed, a secret second team is to man the base. You proceed to Jupiter where you fond it is not a gas giant, but it has an atmosphere which is like 'one way glass' The atmosphere is breathable and you easily set-up your base, your second in command pilots the 'baseball' back to the moonbase, to pick-up the last load of supplies. Joe explores around some of Jupiter. He discovers an alien race living there, they are peaceful, utopian.

  11. Joe falls in love with the planet but he knows that if he goes back to Earth and tells people, they will come to Jupiter and exploit it and cause the same types of problems there are on earth. He discusses it with 'Team 1', they agree, so he gives the order for both teams to come to Jupiter and after everyone agrees, they blow-up the moonbase with remote controlled bombs. They set up a little community on Jupiter, trading with the Aliens, then living happily ever after... or do they?

See? it's not that hard is it? Writing is a process, it is not a static, once-only, hurculean task but a dynamic editable process.

This is where your imagination becomes a powerful ally.

You know the old cliché that a picture says a thousand words? Well guess what? it's not as fanciful as it sounds.

Still think it sounds too hard?

Try this:

Think of a memory from your life, now write it down, in as much detail as you can, I bet you'll be surprised by what you write down.

Now go to it, you can do it, you just have to decide that you want to.

This is the stage where a word limit, or goal, is useful, try for around 6000 words a chapter, it sounds an almost impossible target, but I think you will be surprised at how easily it can be reached. The size of the book is up to you and there are a number of tools you can use to make your book more interesting. Your hero might have a love interest, you may want to increase the tension of a chapter by having, for example, a bomb on board that has to be discovered before a certain time. Remember, you want to build a picture in the readers mind, the better you describe that picture,the better the reader will be able to picture it themselves. In saying that the writer is often tempted to put in too much information.

I have laid all this out for you and hopefully made the process easier but there is one inevitable thing: Eventually you're going to have to put 'pen to paper' (or finger to key).

To paraphrase Albert Einstein;

'...Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration...'

I have one last piece of advice.

What helped me when I was writing my book was to have a "movie" running in my mind, with each chapter, even with each scene in the chapter, I'd have a picture in my mind. Once that scene was in my mind, I'd then describe it.

Now, a book that methodically describes every little detail in a room is going to be about exciting as watching grass grow; very boring. So you have to decide what to put in and what to leave out. Read other books, see how other authors have done it (By-the-way; don't steal their work, that is called PLAGIARISM and is a big deal, avoid doing that like the plague).