End Book 1

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I hope people had fun with the introduction and backstory of Bob and Frank.  It was fun, and before I start writing book 2, which will be numbered chapters 2.1, 2.2, etc. I figured I’d leave a space between books for me to collect any thoughts on the first book.

Several things have been brought to my attention, and several things I’ve noticed myself.

1) Frank gets confusing when he talks out loud.  I’ve experimented in chapter 17 with making his speaking voice both italicized and underlined.  I don’t like the process of using that mechanism though, since the basic editor in WordPress supports underlining, but there’s no button option for it on the visual edit page.  I’m probably going to start putting Frank’s external speech inside [ and ]’s in order to set it apart in a way that WordPress easily supports.  He’s also been a bit more talkative than I wanted him to be.

2) When I get tired commas and quotes have… issues.  I found 11 commas in one sentence the other day, which ended up turning into four sentences and two commas after I cleaned it up.  I caught that one.  I usually find at least 5-10 missing quotes and a few extra commas on the first reread after posting, and typically find more later.  Help finding lost quotes and extra commas would be greatly appreciated!

3) I’ve got a tendency to heavily use a few words.  I think I know my problem words and I watch for them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more.

4) I’ve been starting to mix in some popular culture things that I think the characters in the book would like, but I’m not entirely happy with how I feel about most of them.  I’ll probably mostly avoid popular culture things unless it’s hard to write something without them.  What I consider to be popular culture is probably a wee bit dated in any case.

5) Found a couple logic errors, like Guiliard saying that drones are known to sometimes, but rarely, use ventriloquism – while elsewhere saying they don’t speak at all, ever.  Guiliard didn’t know what he was talking about.  It was the concussion.  The record has been expunged.  Any sightings of more glaring inconsistencies would be appreciated.

6) I think I spent a bit too much time bouncing around from place.  I was trying to give the sense of being fugitives, but I am not sure how that balanced against the rest of the story.

7) The last chapter somewhat irked me in that I couldn’t give much screen time to more soldiers.  I don’t much like writing about large numbers of faceless people.  Unless they are faceless goons that are getting the stuffing beat out of them, then it can be fun.  I’ll probably avoid large groups of non-goons in the near future, unless it’s clear that none of them should be interacting with Bob & Frank.  Walking through a crowded group of people at the mall or something is fine.  Working around 21 soldiers for several hours and only really communicating with four of them and learning the name of one more who marches to the beat of a different drummer.  That sort of felt empty in a way.

8) Taking away from it all, I’m probably going to keep Bob and Frank moving, but not many times per book.  I’ll also be keeping Frank a bit quieter I think, and keeping the number of meaningful characters lower.

9) A serious concern is that I need to take a hard look at why Frank wouldn’t use his abilities more aggressively.  The way that I’ve described his abilities, he’s got pretty absurd limits that he could stretch to fit.  I’m thinking that his new operating system gives him greatly enhanced security at the cost of greatly limited scalability.  After his total controlled biomass reaches a ton or so, including biofactories and constructs, he starts to have problems.  Biomechanical supplements might help, but with diminishing returns.  Frank will not become NewAkira.  Even with that limit, there’s some pretty crazy things that could be imagined.

10) I’ve actually been trying to think of what sort of media I soaked up over the years that led to Bob and Frank.  I’m going to have to watch myself fairly closely to keep Bob and Frank from walking in the shadows of certain characters who I find to be fascinating.

There probably won’t be a real chapter today, unless it’s a small one, and I can’t really see myself starting off a new book with a short chapter.  If I get really caught up in an idea it might happen though.  When things click 1000 words per hour is doable.

Well, enough staring at my navel here.  Time to get started on 2.1

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  1. NeWBeE

    Great Finish! Happy to see a code bomb free version of Frank survived. Like his legacy/child of a sort leaving his “kernel”. I look forward to book 2!

  2. Patrick Reitz (@dreamfarer)

    I realize I’m a bit behind here still, but I’m hoping Frank doesn’t go away too much in the coming books. The interaction between he and Bob was largely what drove Book One, and of the two Frank is in some ways the more interesting character since he’s the “alien” mind that can hold more surprises for the reader.

    In terms of bouncing them around, I think that worked fine for book one. It provided the sense of wandering peril, where perhaps they were only a few steps ahead of bad things catching up with them. At the end, when the shadowy conspiracy does catch up with them we discover that its a more nuanced and complicated situation than “the MIBS are out to kill me” which was nice.

    I’m looking forward to Book Two, which I think is the most critical thing you can ask for out of a Book One.

    Out of curiosity, do you know how many words Book One turned out to be?

    • farmerbob1

      Frank stays vocal for the foreseeable future. Some chapters he says very little out loud though.
      As for word count. Not sure. I’m guesstimating it will end up being 55k or so words, but I’m not bothering to count until I finish the first major editing pass, which should be another three weeks or so from now.

    • farmerbob1

      Book 1 in it’s current state, after the first real editing pass is a bit over 74500 words.
      I’m going to have to go over it at least once more, I think, to look for commas of address and narration verb tense issues I missed first pass.

  3. murphaticlaw

    I admit I was more interested in the story than in puncuation or grammer but nothing really glaring jumped out to bite me, but then again I’ve been up for 32 hours so I’ll need to reread later
    In terms of copy editing I’ve been impressed about how ‘clean’ the copy is for all of the web serials I’ve read so far, I’m guessing a Torvalds Law effect, given enough readers all grammer/puntuation errors are shallow
    Anyway beautifully done, I’ve greatly enjoyed book 1 & am looking forward to book 2=)

    • farmerbob1

      All of book 1 has been edited with a full re-read edit pass with regards to continuity and grammar/spelling after I had been writing for a month, blowing a lot of rust off.

      The terrible, terrible things that the first few chapters contained were awful. My abuse of narrative tenses was shocking. I still catch myself in narration tense issues, and I’m sure some slip by, but I was wincing as I went through the first book.

  4. Kunama

    Hi. Got here from topwebfiction. Have spotted a few errors in the last 10 posts, possibly 1 or 2 in the middle, but was too caught up in the story to really care. I recall one is when Guiliard examining something, probably armour, but the opening ” was in the wrong place. Will keep eyes open for more in future posts.

    I really hope this post works. Commenting is always a bit hit and miss on mobile devices.

    • farmerbob1

      Welcome! The post worked, though I imagine you know that by now 🙂

      Hope you enjoy it! Don’t sweat it if you can’t remember where you saw errors. I’m not looking for perfection in my writing.
      That being said, I have noticed that when people do point me at errors, I frequently find clusters of other errors nearby.

  5. murray

    Enjoyed book one quite a bit! Since you mentioned influences, are you familiar with Parasyte? My sister used to read it, so I’m afraid I don’t remember the author, etc. Anyway you might enjoy the read. If I recall correctly it was much more basic as far as storyline went.

    • farmerbob1

      If you are talking about Parasyte the manga, I just poked around and found a couple reviews on it and it seemed like it was well reviewed. I haven’t heard of it before now though. Unfortunately, I have found myself somewhat short of reading time these last many months. I am still reading Cryptonomicon, a couple chapters at a time, only when I go out to eat, either while waiting for food, or after I’m done if the place isn’t too busy. It’s lasted me nearly four months. Before I started writing, it would have been done in three days at most.

      What influenced me, specifically?

      I was sort-of trying to work in the virtual world as something that would function something like the NeverNever from the Dresdenverse.

      Frank was something of a combination of the enhanced cells in ‘Blood Music’, combined with the AI from the book ‘Infectress’

      There were lots of other influences, but those three were the ones I had to constantly guard myself following too closely.

      • murray

        That’s the one. I read bits and pieces as a kid, but I remember the parasite turning into blades, etc. It was graphic as all hell. I understand not enough time to read… I have had three books on the go for months. Then I found this (courtesy of mr. Frost over at the zombie knight)… and haven’t read anything else in days! Is the dresdenverse you refer to the same as dresden codak? I am not familiar with those other works, but I’ll try to check them out, they sound interesting.

        • farmerbob1

          Oof, the Dresden Codak just got thrown into my “Archive Binge Someday” favorite folder.

          But that’s not the right Dresden. Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books are what I was referring to, as well as Greg Bear’s “Blood Music” and Tom Cool’s “Infectress”

          • murray

            I quite enjoyed Greg Bear’s Halo series, I will definitely have to check that one out. Yeah I blitzed through that particular archive fairly… intensely if I recall.

  6. murray

    Just wanted to let you know that I went back to look through the adjustments you’ve made so far and they read more… smoothly, I guess is the best word for it. You mentioned being humbled at one point, but remember that you’re the one who put this ALL together in the first place. It’s easy in a way to come in with fresh eyes and find small errors in most things.

    • farmerbob1

      Oh, yes. I have done for others what some of you folks have done for me. It is easier to spot the mistakes of others, because the reason you write mistakes is usually because that’s the way you think or write. (At least for me it seems that way) Your own errors are camouflaged when you are reading your own stuff, unless you specifically look for it. Like the word ‘yea’ as opposed to ‘yeah’ for me, or forgetting the ‘and’ at the end of a list of actions and typing ‘, then’ instead of ‘, and then’

      When you are learning though, then go back and try to apply all you learned to much earlier work, it’s hard, even though you see where you could do better, because whatever you touch looks better, and the improved work is now next to something else, which, obviously, also could use some work… I have to be very careful when editing in Chapters 1 and 2, even in 3, or I find myself rewriting paragraph after paragraph. While doing so, I rarely change plot or actions, I just change how I structure the words and what words I use to do the same storytelling.

      I’d be willing to bet that when an editor cranks up their word processor to work on the writing of an author they know well, they have rules prebuilt to automatically search and display grammatical issues they know the author repeatedly has issues with, as well as known common misspellings, and various other types of errors.

      • murray

        Just noticed in my post above that I had a your instead if you’re… that drives me bats! Anyway, that makes a lot of sense when you explain it that way. I imagine it would be hard to not rewrite a lot of it. Could you create something similar for yourself? I’m not particularly computer savvy but I’m thinking most word processors must have a find and replace algorithm you could use for your trouble words.

        • farmerbob1

          Fixed the ‘your’ into a you’re. All the help you have given me, I think I can help a little back.

          I do not have the knowledge to try to design complex pattern search and replace macros or whatever. I imagine editors, who edit for a living, have their tools for such things. On a side note, I am beginning to understand why writers and publishers hire editors. 🙂

          • murray

            Now no one will ever know… I thank you.
            haha yes, it certainly is eye opening when someone tells you about an “error” you’ve made and didn’t even realize. I’m alpha reading a YA novel a friend of mine wrote, and I noticed some trends with her that are similar to some of your “problem” words.

  7. Jesp

    Some similarities with Scott Sigler’s “Infected”, which I had listened to as an audio book so I don’t know how he dealt with the various talking variants.

    Thanks for a great Book 1 and am really looking forward to Book 2! ^_^

  8. Letouriste

    Hum…Thanks for the book:)
    Great overall,I just think your story can be a little better by limit the length of your descriptions and casual actions(I get science fiction is often like that,for the realist feeling,but I found that a little too much;) )

    By casual actions,I mean the way you describe in details every single move of bob body when he walk,sit,etc…
    Just where he look,what he think,what he said and the general action would be enough:the way you described the preparations for the transfert of body is too much for example;)

    Well,just a though from a frenchy who don’t like heavy English description^_^ kind of tedious for me.

  9. Horatio Von Becker

    -Interesting commentary! You’ve definitely gotten almost all of those run-on sentences – the only copy issues I remember were a handful of dropped periods.
    -The goodbye with Old Frank sounded like it was wearing the combat armor, even though in retrospect I know the biofactory was using it, because the helmet was mentioned but no other clothing state was. So that might need rephrasing.
    -Limited scalability doesn’t have to be the new OS – it could also be an inherent limit to the symbiotes, since the Drones don’t turn themselves into horrifying insect swarms. Something to do with the obvious handwave replication lock? I’ve known, ever since the 612 directives were rooted out, that Frank still couldn’t possibly have full self-awareness because he was still locked to Bob-genes.
    -One more thing, while I remember: Who made the prison chair? Also, how were the Agency’s code addons implemented? If they don’t know where Symbiotes come from, how do all Symbiotes have them? These are questions our lead pair should have really wanted answers to during that conversation with the leaders.

    • farmerbob1

      Some aspects of Symbiotes are revealed in the next book that make symbiote ‘biology’ a bit more clear. Or whatever you call it, since silicon-based life doesn’t have a biology in the way that we do.

      • Horatio Von Becker

        Wait, how do they not have something that’s clearly biology? Very, very cyberized I could understand, but about the weirdest they could plausibly get, at least without actual magic, is handling everything ‘cellular’ on a macro scale. Which would barely make them weirder than amoebas.
        Or… maybe they’re entirely viral, and there’s one non-viral ‘organism’ in the entire ecosystem? That would count, I suppose. Explain a bit about their powers, too.

        • farmerbob1

          Symbiotes are cybernetic life forms. Mostly silicon-based when they are young, but they evolve out of that into much more exotic materials as they age. They are artificially-created life. There are no evolutionary dead-ends in their structure.

          • Horatio Von Becker

            …Somehow I’d gotten confused about what we were talking about. Sorry for arguing, my bad.
            (Personally, I’d use ‘biology’ when discussing how they grow, use ‘physiology’ and ‘construction’ as interchangeable terms for their structure, and computer terms for probably everything else.)

  10. NotMeISwear

    The book was great. I didnt feel like bob was on the move a lot he was very welcomed everwhere he went. At least after initials conflicts. This effortless fitting in became a bit odd to me. What i really appreciate is the lack of a big bad government frank and bobs fear was well reasoned, a bit paranoid of course. Not having a Big Evil Corp doing whatever they want without regarts for the human cost is fantastic. That alone lifts this up alot.

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