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Inspiration and Resolutions

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Well, it’s that time of year isn’t it? 2011 is looming upon us, and it is a time to reflect on the year that has passed, and the year ahead. But before I get onto that, I’d like to talk a little bit about inspiration.

I won’t deny that I have experienced a slump in my will to write over the past few, years, let’s be honest. But these last few months particularly I have found it difficult to sit down and write.

cyberpunk dystopia

Not Tron or Deus Ex, but a brillian cyberpunk image by Torley. Click to view more.

Well, last weekend I saw two things, and they had a significant impact upon me. Firstly, I went to see Tron Legacy. Secondly, I watched the extended trailer for the forthcoming game Deus Ex Human Revolution. It was a moving weekend for me overall. I would advise everyone to watch both of these, especially if you’re into this kind of genre fiction as I am. I found both to be inspiring because my long-in-development novel is very similar to both of these.

But it wasn’t just the inspiration of seeing both the film and the trailer that got me, it was the realisation of the maturity of my processing. I started writing my book ten years ago. Another project that I have on the back burner I originally developed the idea for when I was about 12. Now, back then, obviously, I wasn’t very worldly wise; I was brash and immature and, well, a male hitting puberty. So obviously my writing involved a lot of hot scantily dressed chicks either being in need of rescue, or wanting to get it on with the male lead (which at that point I obviously pictured as myself).

But my recent ‘thought draft’ (That’s the redraft you do in your head, without actually writing anything down. You know, lazy writing) of the project made me realise that the few ‘immature’ elements that I had in this project really need to be dropped. Not only because they’re lame, but they hold the story back. I have spoken before about needing to be unafraid of cutting huge swathes of material out of your writing in order to help it to progress. So out went the assassin who was in hiding as a stripper, and in comes the far more ‘acceptable’ agent (conveniently) in play at the location where the action takes place.

The Danger of Working in Genre

The other thing about Tron which dawned on me was just how troubling it is working in the genre of science fiction. I’m not talking about space opera here, but more the ‘real world’, cyberpunky kind of sci-fi. As I mentioned, I started writing my novel ten years ago, and while I finished my first draft rather quickly, I have been in editing hell for the past other years. The thing is though, the world has progressed greatly in that time and ideas that I had, which I thought were cool and cutting edge, seem rather antiquated.

Look at a film like Back to the Future Part 2. That is set in the year 2015. Granted, set 25 years after it was shot, in that future, they have flying cars, plastic clothes, hoverboards and lame 3D holographic movies. I really doubt we’re going to be seeing a lot of flying cars in four years time. Or hoverboards or plastic clothes for that matter. 3D movies may be all the rage now, but holographics are still a way off. And yet, there wasn’t a cellphone in sight. No personal computers either, no laptops, and no frigging iPods.

So what is my point? It is very difficult to get a correct balance with genre fiction, especially when you set it in the near future. Obviously it is impossible to accurately predict where technology will develop (unless you’re Orwell or Jules Verne), and if you play fast and loose, then you’re in danger of it becoming too unbelievable. Play it safe and you run the risk of looking antiquated.

The main issue I have with my novel is the idea of a virtual keyboard. At the time, the idea seemed kinda far out and cool, cutting edge, but now ten years later, when we have net books and iPads and other similar technology, the idea seems almost quaint. I still have characters using pc towers and mice for gods sake (both of which will be obsolete within the next ten years, yet alone a hundred, when the book is set.) So how can you counter this, without rewriting the book every ten years to keep up with the times? I’m not sure I have the answer. Obviously keep up to date with the latest in technology, and see what is happening in currently released sci-fi. And then write it better.


Happy new year!

Happy new year everyone! Image courtesy of ginnerobot.

So back to the time of year. Reflect on how you’ve worked over the past year (for me, terribly) and aim to improve on that next year. Actually, when this year began, I managed to spend a significant amount of time writing, and blasted through about a third of a book, which I haven’t touched since. If I manage to do the same next year, I should have a first draft finished in early 2012.

I suppose writing is a lot like any other resolution. It looks good in theory, giving up drinking, stop eating chocolate (twelve years and counting people), get to the gym, do more writing, but the actual practise is a little more difficult.

I am going to resolve to do this though, this year. I’m going to try my best to spend less time playing PS3, and more time writing. I’ve proven this year – with this serialised online fiction thing that I wrote that unfortunately didn’t pan out – that I can write what amounts to a full length novel in a little over seven weeks, if I dedicate myself to it.

So this is going to be my plan for next year, to write. To sit at this keyboard (which is thankfully not virtual yet), each day and try to blast through more of this book. At the rate that I’ve proven I can write this year, I should be able to get the first draft finished by March. I hope you set similar goals for yourselves, and make progress.

Wish me luck!