Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Speedwell War - Draft 2 - Status Update 2

The things you have to do as a writer.

I've moved the entirety of Draft 1.1 from Word into Scrivener, which is sort of backwards from the way the Scrivener folk expect the product to be used, but it's what I need at the moment. It let me easily identify the scenes needing work by tagging all of the sections and then sorting by the tag I wanted. I created a tag "Incomplete" to tag scenes where there is a gap to be filled, from a missing name to a missing scene to plague fatality numbers.

It is that last item I spent recently working out. With the World Wide Web, you'd think it would be easy to find a simple formula to estimate the infection rate of a disease. No such luck. All the sites list formulas in the form of differential equations and it has been way too long since Calc I in college for those to be useful to me.

After getting a feel for the process and possibilities, I started knocking around numbers and simple equations in Excel. My initial attempts looked OK, but there was no connection between fatalities and infected numbers and there clearly should have been, especially with the high mortality rate I was supposing.

After plugging away for a while, I realized the issue was that I was going about it backwards. I needed to start with exposure numbers, go to infected, and then mirror with fatalities after the appropriate time. This worked much better and started generating some realistic looking numbers. Or at least logical numbers. Now I have to decide if they are the numbers I want, or do I steepen the curve some more. I want this to be scary, not just a minor blip. I think I may need to up the infection rate more, but I'm not certain yet.

The one thing I did learn was that my initial scene with the Office of Infectious Diseases - Mars happens way too late in the timeline. 800+ dead in two weeks time is criminally past the time for CDC-Mars to get involved. That scene now clearly needs to be moved forward in time a week. In fact, several of the scenes involving the Martian Flu will need to be moved forward.

Luckily, the entire novel is in Scrivener now, broken down by scenes, and doing so is as simple as clicking and dragging the scene to where I want it. Then some cosmetic clean-up to get the time cues corrected and it is all good. This is exactly the kind of stuff I saw Scrivener being good at and Word failing at.

Once I have the plague numbers worked out and the scenes moved in time, I'll start filling in the "missing" scenes. Once those are done, I'll get with my focus group to see what needs work. Then I need to start working out how I want to get this published. I'd rather not self-publish, as I want to write more than publish, but we'll see what I find when I get there.

In the meantime, if you have any literary agent recommendations (good or bad), I'd love to hear from you.


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