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July 05, 2006

Book Report

Crunch time writing on The Last Colony is going well, I think; I've been setting some lofty output goals for myself and have been keeping them, which makes me happier, and the majority of what I'm writing is not crap, which makes me happier still. As I noted earlier, TLC was slippy at the start; it kept trying to get away from me. Well, now I've pinned the little bastard, right through the spleen, so he can't get away. The goal for me right now is to get as much as possible done in the next couple of weeks, so I have a little time at the end to buff and polish and argue with God before I send the manuscript off to the true highest authority, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor at Tor, hallowed be his name.

I think I've mentioned before that my method to writing novels is to have a few big events I know I have to hit, but have no clue how I'm going to get from one point to the next, and then I make things up as I go along. I do this because it's more fun for me than knowing exactly what's going to happen at every turn (and indeed, the TLC story has developed some twists and turns that I didn't expect, but which I think are advantageous) but because it allows me to be rapaciously opportunistic. If I make something up that works, I get to keep working with it without worrying too much about the consequences to my outline (so long as I hit those big events I'm supposed to). It's interesting to see what happens.

I'm not going to give you any real indication of what's going on in the book (except to say an adjudication concerning goats occurs early on), but I will say this: twisty, twisty. You can take that to mean whatever you like.

Back to it. I have a lot more writing to get to today and tomorrow before I can feel comfortable not doing a lot of writing over the weekend (because I'll be at Readercon). Off I go.

Posted by john at July 5, 2006 10:43 AM

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Comments

Joe Hass | July 5, 2006 11:04 AM

John:

So things are going well on the writing front. So we should only see, say, one or two photoshop projects this week?

Bryan W | July 5, 2006 11:29 AM

adjucation? Adjudication? Adjuration? Adjection? Well, if it involves goats... it's probably funny.

CoolBlue | July 5, 2006 11:48 AM

Yeah, someone is going to threaten to cut a goat in half to see who loves it. But it turns out that everyone just wanted to eat it so he cuts it in half anyway and everyone is happy with all the feasting and cavoting that results.

Oooops. I didn't let the goat out of the bag, did I?

Jas | July 5, 2006 11:52 AM

John, while you're filling in all the stuff that goes on between the big events, do you find yourself at all concerned with the internal consistency of your universe? Do you go back to your first two books to make sure you're not accidently making something happen that precludes something that's already happened? Are you concerned that rabid fans are going to find inconsistencies in your universe that aren't easily explained away?

John Scalzi | July 5, 2006 12:06 PM

Jas:

"do you find yourself at all concerned with the internal consistency of your universe?"

Not at all. As always, the internal consistency of my universe is custard-like.

More seriously, the universe is small enough at this point that I can remember the details from book to book; the only things I really need to go back to the earlier books for are names of specific people and places.

shana | July 5, 2006 05:35 PM

Finally got to TGB, and wanted to send my congratulations! very nice. lots of fun for a rainy afternoon.

except you then showed up in my dream this weekend, looking stern because ... something i don't remember happened.
and i woke up convinced that i'd forgotten to tell you something, when i'd seen you. and i still can't tell you, because i'm not going to readercon after all.

Michael G. Richard | July 5, 2006 06:03 PM

Good luck with the writing, John. I still haven't read TGB, but I enjoyed OMW quite a bit so I know there's a good chance I'll pick up the next two.

Dave Sorgen | July 5, 2006 07:36 PM

My brother was involved in an adjudication involving a camel.

Seems a buncha bored soldiers "accidently" fired a stinger at what they "thought" was an enemy vehicle during the first gulf war. There was nothing left of the poor camel except legs. Uncle sugar had to pay for the camel and two generations of progeny. Anything like that in your book???

Cheers, Dave

John Scalzi | July 5, 2006 07:54 PM

Actually, Dave, yeah.

Dave Sorgen | July 5, 2006 08:06 PM

hmmmm...

My brother found it amusing, but as an "officer and gentleman" had to keep a straight face while interviewing the soldiers (aka culprits). They all insisted that they thought the camel was one of Sadam's tanks and that they were in dire danger. They were all lying, but he did give them an "A" for the effort.

This was gulf war one by the way.

Malcolm | July 5, 2006 08:38 PM

...TLC was slippy at the start; it kept trying to get away from me. Well, now I've pinned the little bastard, right through the spleen, so he can't get away.

You can just see the editor's comments now: "Nice work once again, John. However, the blood stains on pages 137 through 152 were a distraction. What is that? Bits of spleen? Nowhere does your contract mention the words "graphic novel". And whilst I'm on the subject, the mustard stains in chapter 4 make me wonder about your diet. However, the photoshopped authors photo was a hit around the office, although it's traditional to only have one of you in each photo."

Dwight Brown | July 5, 2006 09:56 PM

"...now I've pinned the little bastard, right through the spleen..."

This started me thinking. I don't think this theory is original to me, but I can't recall where I originally ran across it.

The theory in question is, of course, that some body parts are funnier than others. Specifically, the spleen is at the top of the "funny body parts" list. (If anyone reads the *Brewster Rockit* comic, how often does he use "Ahhhh! My spleen!" as a punchline?) I'm not sure what would be next: I'm inclined to say liver, just because there's something funny about liver as a concept.

After that, it gets tough. Noses and elbows are funny, I think, but arm and leg bones in general are not. (The humerus being an exception to that rule.)

Am I off base here? Is it a waste of time trying to estabish a relative humor classification for body parts?

John Scalzi | July 5, 2006 09:58 PM

Spleen is funn because it's got "Splee!" in it.

Steve Buchheit | July 5, 2006 10:33 PM

Man, usually I just wrestle my stories to the ground and pin them for a three-count. But then, none have been purchased yet. So, I have to pin the little buggers through the (gulp) spleen? Good thing my wife teaches college biology, I’ll have to ask her to bring home a dissection kit.

Let’s see, spleen, spleen, where’s the damn spleen on this thing? Ah, this looks right.

Ah, no, that’s my thumb. Damn, that’s gonna leave a mark.

Therese Norén | July 6, 2006 07:35 AM

So, John, I hear TLC is all about blaming the patriarchy.

Brewster Rockit, or 500 ways to kill Wesley Crusher. I mean, he sure is an annoying Mary Sue, but I don't think he quite deserves that. The spleen is funny, though.

Anne C. | July 6, 2006 02:22 PM

"Specifically, the spleen is at the top of the "funny body parts" list."
I have another spleen reference: the flatulently-gifted superhero (played by the incomparable Paul Reubens) in Mystery Men was called "The Spleen." He also spoke with a lisp, which made the "splee" part of the name even funnier.

Bravo for your diligence, John. Keep on truckin'!

Tripp | July 6, 2006 03:19 PM

Dwight,

Nothing involving humor is a waste of time.

One of the extras to the "Dodgeball" DVD was a treatise on the realive humor of various ways of getting struck with a ball.

If I recall it was:

1. Must be a suprise.
2. Any body part okay.
3. Head good.
4. Groin best.

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