A big part of this blog, and Writing On Your Palm before it, has always been to document my journey as a writer and serve as either a cautionary example or inspiration to others. It occurred to me recently that I have a unique opportunity to do so much more.
When I was writing my first novel, one of my idols was Joe Straczynski, the creator and writer of nearly every episode of Babylon 5. I read every word Joe published on the internet during the production of the show, and I learned a lot about both writing in general and how television is made. But there was always more I wanted to know. I wanted to see the scripts. I wanted to sit in on the breakout meetings. I wanted to see the background of the story the way Joe saw it. I never got those things, because Joe is sane and had a business to run.
But now, I have the opportunity to provide just what I wanted. I can do something no one else has been nuts enough to do. Here’s the plan.
Step 1: Write and edit Unification Chronicles simultaneously
Regular readers know I’ve committed to writing all seven books of the Unification Chronicles series in ten months, to be finished by Labor Day weekend, 2010. But now that I’ve figured out how to write 2,000 words a day and still have time for my normal life, I’ve decided to aim still higher. I’m also going to edit the books in nearly the same span of time. Basically, while I’m writing 2,000 words a day of Book 2, I’ll be editing 5-10 pages of Book 1. This is possible because the 2k-per-day rough draft I’ve been turning out is surprisingly readable, not at all the unreadable crap I was expecting. Turns out you can write well and write fast at the same time (Mike Cane, I’m looking at you).
Step 2: Blog everything
Yes, everything. I’d like to announce The Unification Chronicles Blog, where I’ll be publishing every single thing I use in writing these books, documenting every step in the process. There you will find notes, research, plot outlines, even drafts posted as I write them, and before I revise them. I want aspiring writers to see the whole package. To be able to compare outlines to drafts to the finished product, and see how it all changes. I’ve set up a wiki for most of the structured information that doesn’t work as well on a blog.
Step 3: Sell the finished product cheap or free
Once I’m done with each book, each chapter will be available as a free PDF file or a free podcast (narrated by yours truly, and a straight read, none of this voice cast business). Each book will also be available on eReader.com, Fictionwise.com and Amazon.com as a 99 cent ebook. At the end of the series I’ll also make a 7-book omnibus edition available for $5.
For those that want something to put on a shelf—or don’t take my advice about how to read ebooks comfortably—I’ll also be publishing each book via either Lulu or CreateSpace—haven’t decided which yet—for just a little bit more than it costs to print. I’m not trying to get rich here. But I want to make sure that anyone who wants a printed copy can get one. I likely won’t be doing a printed omnibus edition, however, as it would simply be too expensive.
Step 4: Embrace the Chaos
One of the reasons I’m doing this is to establish a certain setting I plan to come back to again and again throughout my career. This is the Chaos. After the events in Book 5, I basically have kicked over all the anthills and set the galaxy on fire. Everyone is at war with everyone else, humanity is in pretty dire straits, and everything has gone to hell. Book 6 actually takes place during the Chaos, but it’s far from the only thing going on. It will take years, maybe decades of this to get to Book 7, Unification, where the heroes that survived Book 5 get back together and unify the galaxy. In those years are an infinity of tales.
But I’m not going to be the only one writing Tales of the Chaos. At least I hope not. I’m going to open up that setting under Creative Commons so that anyone can write stories set there. There will be a few limitations, like not using actual characters from my books, so the new stories don’t end up contradicting Unification—and even that will be negotiable, I expect to approve a few canonical stories I don’t write—but overall, it’s an open sandbox. Most of the stories will even be hosted on the Unification Chronicles site.
Step 5: The Audition
Once I’m done with Unification Chronicles—aside from Tales of the Chaos—I’ll keep writing, of course. Homeworld (my NaNoWriMo 2006 project) and Titanus (which I developed for Script Frenzy 2009 but decided I’d rather write as a novel) still need to be finished. As does Ghost Ronin, the first in a new adventure series. These, and the works that follow them, will in all likelihood be written with the door closed. I will seek an agent and get these and future works published traditionally. But here, the work I’ve done for Unification Chronicles will give me an advantage. Agents and editors considering my work will be able to see that I can write to a specific length, finish what I start, and tell a good story. They’ll have half a million words of my fiction as a work sample, and they’ll be able to see exactly how I research and write a book. And hopefully, they’ll see you, dear readers, and see that I can build a fan base and get people excited about my work. That’s why I’m giving Unification Chronicles away for free—or as cheap as I’m allowed to make it. Because if I pull it off, and do everything right, then I get to…
Step 6: Quit my day job and write full time
I want to make my living as a novelist. I want my only requirement in life to be continuing to tell the stories that make my life worth living. It’s the only thing I’ve ever been really good at, and with your help, I think I have a way to make this happen. I expect this to take time, but hopefully I’ll be a full time working novelist by the time I’m 45 (I’m 38 now).
Let’s get started.