Joshua’s Cat

Sometimes I can get a good idea from these darn posts.  Joshua will have a cat at his apartment.  It belonged to his parents and he grew up with it.  It’s old and in the final phase of it’s life.  It should be put down but he can’t do it, because it’s a physical link to his lost family.   Will he ever have the strength to let go of the cat and the memory of his family?  Well, I could tell you but what would be the fun in that? :P

Needless to say, this minor detail shows a great deal about the character of Joshua and will factor in to his character’s transformation in the end.

Joshua’s Character is Weak

At this point in writing Null_Pointer I have to confess that the main character – Joshua is not as interesting as the secondary character – Dancia.  In a way, that’s intentional.  I started out wanting to make the main character someone who was normal and not very interesting in and of himself.  He would be a everyman character that anyone could relate to and would not be distracted by his quirks and inconsistencies.  But I feel that he is just plane boring and it could be hard for the reader to really care about him enough to follow the story through to the end.

I wanted his friends to be more eccentric and interesting because he would be using them and their expertise to help him solve the mystery.  Not sure if this is typical in the mystery genre, but that was the original plan.  I now find that I’m not very interested in him at this point and that he must start putting the clues together and taking an active role in moving the story forward.  Perhaps I should not be too concerned about it at this point in the First Draft.  Save the fleshing out of his character for the Second Draft.

Some ideas for fleshing out Joshua:

1. Make him not fully recovered from the death of his parents.  Perhaps he thinks about them too much or maybe he dreams about them all the time.  This is actually quite important for the later chapters.

2.  Give him some kind of weird physical or mental attribute that he has to overcome or that gives him a unique outlook on life.  That could be distracting and not have any real purpose.
3.  I originally thought he was getting over a broken relationship with a girl, and that he does not see how close he is coming to Dancia, because he is always thinking about the old girlfriend.  This one I will start bringing in and may even go back to add before the Second Draft.  Not sure if I want to add her as a character though.  I think it was a clean break and he never really talks with her again.  Perhaps he could see her somewhere but that would be it.

This ex-girlfriend thing might have happened several months ago and he is just starting to get over it.  It would explain why he shows no real interest in Dancia at the outset.  As it is, you have to wonder why he has not made a pass at her yet in the story. :)

4.  I want to show that he is not the kind of person who takes revenge or carries a grudge.  This aspect of his personality comes to bare in the climax.  He also finds it hard to let go of anyone or anything.  His respect for living things makes him too pacifist for violent deadly action.  Perhaps he has a pet cat who is slowly dying and he can’t bring himself to take to to the Vet to be put to sleep.  Something like that.

Well, that’s all I can think of for now.  Expect some  changes in Joshua in the coming chapters.

Blog Theme

If you are reading this blog, how do you feel about the dark theme currently used?  Does the lack of a black on white page bother you or do you prefer the current reverse of that?  I’m only asking because it can be changed easily and I want to make reading it easy for you the reader.

First Drafts

If you are reading Null_Pointer on this web site, you are reading a First Draft of the novel. First drafts are usually not seen by the public. Part of the reason for this blog is to let you see the writing process with all it’s wrinkles and blemishes. A First Draft is the very first complete pass at writing the entire novel. Usually, a writer is just trying to get the ideas out of his head and onto paper in a somewhat coherent fashion in chapter and scene form.

Sometimes it is readable and you can get a sense of how the story will evolve, other times its choppy and incoherent to anyone but the writer. For me, my first drafts are usually pretty rough when it comes to grammar, character, and details. I concentrate on plotting and scene progression more than anything. There are bits of polished gems in there, but I have not given much time to making sense of things or developing characters. Sometimes details change from chapter to chapter as I learn who my characters are and change my mind about various aspects of the story. I may even add or delete chapters or scenes as the novel progresses, but that’s pretty rare.

I try and plow thorough the whole thing first, then go back and rearrange things so they make sense. That is the role of the second draft. I will post the second draft on the site when the time comes to do that. The First Draft will become a single file and the chapter pages will only contain the latest draft version.

Once again, comments are welcome and I will respond in kind when questions are asked.

Taking a Break

I’ve been cranking away at Null_Pointer full speed for several months now.  I’m almost finished with Chapter 10.   I have added a Prelude that shows how Glenn died.  I wrote a little bit last night, but eventually, fell asleep.  The problem is just that – sleep.  I have not been getting enough lately and the last thing I want to do when I get home from my programming job is to sit at a computer and be creative.

So I’m taking a break.  A dramatic pause to gather my energies and creativity for the final push to the end of the novel.  I don’t know how long this pause will be, but given the season, it may not be over until January.  Somehow I doubt I will be able to stay away from it for that long.

I’ll be updating this blog with my ideas and thought processes so at least you will know I’m still around.

A Prelude *** SPOILER ALERT ***

I decided to start the novel with a bang, instead of a body. I wrote what happened to Glenn the programmer who died at the beginning of Null_Pointer. It was important to know how he died, so that the reader would be weary of who else would die. So when that person starts to fall victim to the bad guy’s program, the reader gets nervous.

It’s no secret to readers of this blog how my BG kills with his code. He uses Flash animation and music to hypnotise his victim and then he creates the reality of the person’s worst nightmare. He just waits for the person to convince himself that he is going to die. Eventually, the person dies.

Knowing what happens to the victim at the outset, sets up suspense for when the BG tries to get another person in the story. Dancia will be the next victim and when it starts to happen to her, we will learn what her phobia is and how it will be slain later in the story.

I really love it when things fall into place like this in a story. It’s probably the most interesting part of writing for me and it does not involve actual writing. Plotting. A good plot makes a great story.

Ham Radio

Yes, I’m a ham radio operator – W0PHT. The call sign belonged to my father and was his first and last call sign. When my father died, I could not let his call sign get reassigned to a stranger, so I became a ham and took over his call sign. I grew up listening to my dad’s radios and have a deep appreciation for the hobby. When I decided to incorporate amateur radio into the story, I knew I wanted to show how interesting it could be, even to a computer geek like my protagonist.

Since getting my license, I have convinced many geeks I know to get their licenses and join me on the air. It’s relaxing, and interesting and still one of the neatest ways to talk to someone across the world. As a writer, I love to listen to people talk and listening to hams from all over the US and the world is a great way to eavesdrop and get to know other regions.

If you are interested in becoming a ham radio operator, it’s never been easier to get your license. Just study this book by the ARRL and find the local ARRL sponsored testing officers in your area for a time and location to take the test. You don’t have to learn Morse Code and you can get on the air locally with about $250.00. Not too bad for a chance to enter a largely secret club of really interesting people who love to chat.

Schedule

I started writing Null_Pointer on June 15, 2006, so my editor tells me, and so far I’ve managed to crank out a new chapter or about ten pages every weekend.  There have been a few skips for real life events or because I needed a break, but generally, my nose has been to the grind stone.

I’d like to get through the first draft by the end of this year – 2006, but with holidays and vacations coming, it may not be completed until the first few months of next year – 2007.  Then I have to set about with writing the second draft.  The second draft should go faster, because all that entail is adjusting things and nipping and tucking as I reread it.

At this point in time, Chapter 9, there are about 26,778 words and that is 116 pages typed, double spaced.  All of that means if NP turns out to be a 200 page novel, I’m half done and if it makes it to 300 pages, I’m close to 40% done.  I think it will be somewhere between 250 and 300, but that’s a crude guess.  We’ll see.

As for my output, I think I will be stepping it up a bit.  I can write about five pages in an hour.  So far I’ve been writing for two hours every weekend.  I’d like to increase this to about four hours and see if I can come close to doubling my page output.  I’m kind of afraid to do that and have my quality slip any lower than it already is.  All the elements of a mystery are now coming into play and I have to start letting my protagonist figure things out.  Pacing and plotting are becoming more important.  Stay with me for the middle and final acts, it should be fun.

Outlines

I need to have some kind of direction when writing a novel.  I have to be able to know what is coming up as I’m writing so I don’t miss something or get things out of order.  For Null_Pointer, I’m taking time out occasionally to write a few paragraphs about what happens in the next few chapters.  You can read along in the outlines and then see if the actual written chapters match what I outlined.

I don’t always follows the outline, but that’s my perogative.  It should be interesting to see what I add and what I change as I write.  Which is one of the goals of this particuluar blog.  To get inside the writer’s mind and see the creative process take flight.

Of course none of these crude outlines will help me write the official outline used to sell the book.  That will have to be written after the final draft.