Five things I learned while writing Saturnius Mons

Well, that's it!  The last episode.

Right here:

That's it.  For now.  Hope you enjoyed the ride.

Looking back on this whole process from the first evening in an apartment in Bellevue Nebraska that I started making the first notes that would become Saturnius Mons to this moment kinda makes my mind spin.  I mean basically, I learned how to WRITE A FREAKING BOOK!  In my own mind, I've often compared the process to a college course where I was training for the job I really wanted in life.

And, much like an actual college course, I'm broke and I have a command of impressive knowledge that is ultimately unmarketable.

But, hey, no crushing debt!


I sat down and tried to think of ten things that this book specifically taught me about being an author.  I mean short of HOW TO WRITE A FEAKING BOOK!  Because it did that as well.

But, for some reason, I could only think of five.  And here they are.

1. There's A Reason I Need GPS

Like many humans in our modern world, I have forgotten what it is like to have to navigate the streets of a city using only my wits and a functional knowledge of local geography.  Turns out I need that when it comes to writing too.  When I first started on the journey of becoming an author, I basically wanted to give the finger to any idea of an outline. I was like, 'Whooo!! No rules!  This bastard is a car WITHOUT A STEERING WHEEL!  Hang On Bitches!"

And like a car without a steering wheel, it basically careened into a ditch within the first five minutes.

It took me a while but I've figured out that my brain functions better if I have a destination mapped out ahead of time.  I've not noticed many constraints to my creativity, artistic vision or any of the other bullcrap I told myself I would lose if I put in the extra effort ahead of time.

I learned that, just because someone is in control of the car, doesn't mean that person is not an asshole and will take you places you never wanted to see in the first place.

2. Every Author Should Record Their Own Audiobook

Holy mother of silver-coated shit, did I find a lot of little typo nuggets left behind.  One of those annoying bits of writing advice that nearly everyone says to writers is 'read your shit out loud'.  Which I do.  Several times.

Here's the thing.  There's a difference between reading your shit out loud when you're the only one in the room and you're trying to knock out a chapter so you can play video games in your undies.  It's quite another when you have to make sure every word is clear and articulated and.... wait did I actually write 'his inevitable fate was inevitable?'  Seriously??  Jesus Tap Dancing Christ I suck.

I have since started modifying my 'read out loud' exercise.  Now I try to read it as if I am actually recording it for the podcast.  Will it have any positive effect?  Wait and see!

3. Writing Several Main Characters is Freaking Hard!

If I had to do it again, I would write a series that involve a single main character.  Maybe that person would be part of a larger group but the story would be about that person.  Keeping track of several characters is an exercise in mental logistics.  You want to pay attention to one person but you have to keep in mind what another person is probably doing in the background.  Scenes that involve the entire group have to involve the entire group or else you have someone just awkwardly standing to the side.   The editing phase involves going back to make sure you didn't lose someone along the way, you have to check in with everyone and... and...


I guess what I am saying is that it's a lot to keep in old Duder's head, man.

4. Never, Ever, Ever Write Someone Who Does Not Use Contractions.

Isra, I love you.  I really do.  But why in all the hells did I think it was a good idea for you to not use contractions when you speak?  Seriously?  I spend at least half my time pulling apostrophes out of your dialogue.  It's like trying to pull all the thorns out of a big rubber ball I rolled into a rose garden.

5. The Things You Made Up In Your Head Become Real And That Never Stops Being Weird.

For several years, Viekko, Althea, Isra and Cronus were like my imaginary friends.  Seriously.  I've probably spent as much if not more time thinking about them than I have my own wife.  And, in a sense, they are real to me.  I know how they look, sound, what they are likely to say and how they will likely react.  At the same time, I'm fully aware that they are characters I just sat down and made up.

Except that they are out now.  Every once in a while, someone will ask me a specific question about the book.  They will ask me how, for example, Viekko became hooked on Triple-T.  Or how (spoiler alert) Isra doesn't have any record of her before she was 12.  A friend of mine even asked if The Decline and Failure of 21st Century Civilization by Martin Raffe was a real book.

For some reason, the fact that other people know about these characters and are engaged enough to ask me about them makes them just a little more real.  This whole thing.  All of it.  I just sat down and made it all up.  And people seem to like it.  I don't know why that's weird for me, but it is.

I'm also thankful for that.



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