Page 22 of 23


Busy weekend.

Spent most of today editing The Stars Were Right – editing is a strong word, really it’s more of a sanity check. (Though I have corrected typos jotted i’s and crossed t’s where it needed to happen.) Did some slight readjusting of some terms and names I changed halfway through that I had forgotten about.

Things are going very fast, though I give credit to my overplanning more than my skills. It’s a lot of work, but man has it helped this second pass through the manuscript. Plus, it’s increased my word count by 3k. Amazing how little simple adjustment can add so much.

Oh, and I got some very positive feedback from a beta reader. Can’t beat that.

Pardon me while I take a victory lap…



Seven months later The Stars Were Right is now a complete rough manuscript at just over 80k words. Right in the sweet spot as planned. Sorry I’ve been heads down, spending most of my time working on my manuscript and avoiding the internet.

It’s a great feeling, but now the hard work begins. First I need to do a secondary pass just to make sure everything is in it’s place plot-wise and along the way I’ll correct any mistakes I happen to stumble across. (I’m sure there are plenty.) Then I have a query to write and a few synopses (in various length, because some agents like short synopsis and some like longer ones.)

I’m pretty stoked, but man there’s a lot to do. I need to write the outline for my next manuscript on top of dealing with all the writing that comes after finishing a manuscript. So much to do, got to focus and stay busy!

Beta Readers

Handed partials of my latest manuscript (The Stars Were Right) to a few readers over the long weekend, and got some very excited feedback. I was told that there was apparent improvement in my writing something I have been seeing but it’s nice to have it validated. Most people took to my main character which is good, since it’s told a first person perspective. There was some dissatisfaction that came from the fact that there is no more to read. Which again is pretty great feedback. The pressures on I guess.

One thing to come out of this was a newfound excitement for my manuscript. At 60k words with the end in the distance it’s difficult to sometimes see the forest through the trees. Things slow down, a project becomes a slog. Seeing other people getting excited over my work gets me excited. Give me a reason to write. Even if I never sell it, if my beta readers enjoyed it I’ve done something right.

Chinatown by John Liberto

Chinatown by John Liberto

This image – “Chinatown” by John Liberto – has served as a major influence for the central city of Lovat in “The Stars Were Right.” Tons of awesome attention to detail, my friend Todd first alerted me to it almost a year ago and it’s constantly haunted me. Figured I’d share.

I draw maps.

Map of Lovat
Detail of the City of Lovat from my manuscript “The Stars Were Right.”

I write speculative fiction, which is the fancy way to say I write books that fit somewhere between sci-fi and fantasy, both of my manuscripts Coal Belly and Stars exists in realities separate from ours. Coal Belly takes place during an industrial revolution on a river covered planet named Vale, Stars exists in a distant furutre where the surface of the earth has changed significantly and strange creatures interact with humanity on a day to day basis. They’re both very detailed settings and in both cases I found that drawing my own maps really helped me with my world building.

I write with Scrivener (an amazing tool, I’ll probably write a post on it at some point in the future) and it has some templates for locations that I find very helpful. However sometimes a document with descriptions isn’t enough. My love of maps and my reliance on them in my writing is probably born out of my career as a designer. I can write details, but visualizing them spatially is often difficult for me.

“City of Cardova,” a central location in my manuscript “Coal Belly”

More and more I tend to find myself breaking out the ol’ moleskine and starting to sketch. Maps help me see a city, or a nation in better context, I can write to that local when I have it drawn out before me. See the distance between point A and B. Other times I use a map to work out details in a scene or a chapter. Case in point: I wrote a scene towards the end of Coal Belly and after reading it I realized it was confusing, so I drew a map. I choreographed how the whole event played out, I mapped character movement, and made notes on the actions of the scene. It worked out well.

So I draw maps, and will probably continue to do so, how about you? Ever drawn a map to help you write? What tools do you use? How detailed do you get?


Broke 41k words last night while working on Stars. Right on target and halfway there. Small milestone but an important one.