Post-novel turn-in syndrome

So, yesterday we turned SALVAGE RIGHT, the 25th novel set in the Liaden Universe®.  For those coming in late, or who are Just Wandering By “we” in the case is Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

Since there are a lot of books, and several threads, and Someone will ask What Is This Book About, and no one is ever satisfied with “about 130,000 words,” below is the authors’ working synopsis:

Clan Korval has for two hundred Standards believed Jen Sin yos’Phelium dead. In Neogenesis, the delm of Korval was apprised of this error. Salvage Right is the story of what happens next.

Everybody up to speed, now?  Good.

I started working on Salvage Right (I say “I” because I am lead writer on this title; Steve is lead writer on Trade Lanes, the next title, due in September) on November 15, 2021.  My brain immediately took the idea and ran with it, and I do mean “ran.”

“Big party at Tinsori Light!” was basically the theme of the next six months, when, in May, I declared tools down on a Good Enough Draft, sent the 106,000 words then more or less in place to beta readers, and took two weeks off, one of them to clean the house; the other to sit on the porch of an oceanfront apartment and stare at the waves, and the sky.

It was a much-needed break, and I came back to the manuscript with vision and energy renewed.

Which was a Good Thing.

We’re going to talk a little bit about Process, now.

The last novel I was lead on was Trader’s Leap, delivered in October 2019.  2020 was more-or-less taken up with breast cancer surgery, radiation and recovery.  And recovery.  Oh, and more recovery.  During which time, I repeatedly tried to write — something.  Anything.  Only to find that I seemed to have forgotten how.

I therefore sat myself down in an effort to relearn my craft, producing as my first post-cancer It Actually Makes Sense story, “Ambient Conditions,” in October 2020.  Five more short stories later, and coauthor for Fair Trade, and I felt pretty confident of my ability to take lead on another novel.

My Previous Method for writing novels was to Think Hard about the characters and what kind of trouble they were likely to get into, identify a few key scenes, and then, when I felt Ready, start writing the first scene, and proceed, in a more-or-less linear direction until “The End.”

The above method has its flaws.  It is sometimes necessary for me to stop for days while planning out the next scenes/interactions chronologically.  The benefit is that, once a “good enough” draft is achieved, it really is Good Enough.

As mentioned above, Salvage Right was written in the heat of “Big party at Tinsori Light!” where the backbrain threw up this scene, that scene, this other scene, and so on.  My job was to type as fast as I could, and when the occasional breathing space arrived, to chain the scenes in an order that made sense, given What I Knew.  Problem being that I didn’t know Everything.

Which meant that when I called tools down and took my two-week break, the book was Not As Finished as I believed it was, and that there was still a Large Chunk of Story still in my head that had not made it to the page.

So, long story short, I wrote +/-30,000 words in a little less than a month, rearranged the manuscript once more, and, finally, only four days late, turned it in.

Will I use the Write What You Know until you Don’t Know Anything Else Method again?  Probably.  I really like the sense of movement and engagement with the characters.  I did have Moments of Panic in the last stage, but I did not have a spell of ennui such as sometimes overtakes me when I’m writing straight-through-come-hell-or-high-water.

So!  My 34th novel and I’m still learning Stuff.

I did have a blast with these characters — as shifty a bunch as have congregated in one place in the Liaden Universe® — and I think y’all are going to like the book.

At this point in time, recalling that These Things Can Change — Baen plans to publish Salvage Right in Summer 2023.

My next project, after a few days of Light Duty, straightening out drawers and vacuuming and such like, is revising what I’ve been calling, to Steve’s not-so-secret amusement, “the Hat story” (actually, “The Last Train to Clarkesville”), then start getting Duainfey and Longeye into shape for indie reissue under the proper author name.  After that?  Welp, I’m lead on the book due next June, so I guess I better start Thinking About That.

Here ends today’s discourse.


3 thoughts on “Post-novel turn-in syndrome”

  1. I’m a (now retired priest) and I remember the brain fog after my radiation and chemo… I had been writing sermons twice a week for years but when I tried, nothing happened. Took almost a year before I could write again. Thankfully I had years of sermons in the files… my church is on a 3 year cycle so no one ever knew.

  2. Thank you; that was interesting. And I’m so glad you were able to resume your craft; I can only imagine that must have been a relief.

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