Writing Tools

One of the challenges I faced in writing Newton’s Ark was tracking several parallel story lines until such time as they all came together towards the end of the book. At the time the only tool I had at my disposal was Microsoft Word and its Outline view. It got the job done but it was a struggle, like driving a screw with pliers. You can do it, but why would you when there’s this thing called a screwdriver?

Soon after I began on the sequel, Faraday’s Mine, I realized I was going to have the same problem, only more so. Not only did I need to keep the story line straight, but it had to be consistent with what had already happened in the first book. And I wanted to raise the intrigue a level, making the web even more tangled.

Fortunately I discovered a wonderful program called Scrivener which allows me to organize the book into chapters and scenes using the metaphor of index cards on a cork board. Now I can easily create the structure of the story and then change it on the fly. I can attach notes to each scene to remind myself what I plan to write as well as attaching keywords for characters and locations to each of the scenes so I can see who is doing what to whom and where.

Here’s a look at one of the chapters. If you look real close you might just be able to figure out what is going to happen (warning spoilers – assuming I don’t change it or I’m not just playing with you).

It has turned out to be one of those tools I didn’t know I needed until I found it. Now I couldn’t imagine writing another novel without it.

This post brought to you by author, D.A.Hill.

Advertisements

Fusion Reactors

As I have mentioned previously I was very conscious in writing Newton’s Ark to keep the science as real as possible. The most speculative technology I included was probably the micro fusion reactor – a small, highly portable fusion reactor that could power a satellite for decades.

This technology requires us to find a way to build a self-sustaining fusion reaction that produces positive net energy. And then you have to miniaturize it – I’m going to ignore that challenge assuming we can solve the main problem.

This technology has been a decade away for the past sixty years. Will we ever solve this problem? Who knows. It may really be a only decade away, it may be another sixty years away or it may never happen. It’s hard to extrapolate from the experience to date. There has been some progress but not enough to be completely confident that the fundamental challenge can be overcome.

It is still an active area of research though. In fact I recently received an assignment to design a biometric security system (iris recognition) for an experimental fusion reactor facility!

This post brought to you by author of Newton’s Ark, D.A. Hill.

Keeping Sci Fi Real

One of the things I set out to do when writing Newton’s Ark, was to keep the science part of the science fiction plausible, by basing the technology of the future either on already emerging technologies or at least on plausible projections of current technology trends.

This article on taking control of drones by spoofing GPS signals is a good example.

Here’s the relevant section in the book:

 “The early drones worked exactly that way, Major. They were vulnerable; if communication is disrupted the drone is pilot-less. Worse still, if the signal is intercepted it is possible for a hostile force to take control of the drone. Back as far as 2012 the Iranians captured what was then one of our most advanced drones by spoofing a GPS signal. They convinced the drone that it was landing back at its base in Turkey when it was really landing in Teheran. Incidents like that were the impetus for the EM program.”

This post brought to you by author D.A. Hill