Opportunity for SF writers.

12 06 2008

I’ve been asked to circulate this rather fab-sounding call for SF writers. So, without further ado:


A new departure in drama and interactive entertainment – an ambitious sci-fi show for an international audience which is first launching on the internet rather than linear television.

In the year 2020 a vast colony of human pioneers leaves a troubled and environmentally challenged planet Earth for Lumina, an uninhabited world. The journey will take 169 years. Exodus, the craft that carries this nascent society, is a microcosm of the world, entirely self-sufficient and entirely dependent on the cooperation of its inhabitants for its survival.

The ‘show’ is delivered in the form of an online community themed around a narrative which is told in the form of a graphic novel in Flash animation. Visitors to the site are invited to join the craft, are allocated a home of their own in this virtual world which they can personalise. In the first season, members of the community will elect a governing body with the power to propose laws. This experimental society will have a constitution, a legal code and embark on an experiment in virtual democracy and justice.

As the site becomes more sophisticated, the linear narrative increasingly impacts on the community. E.g., when a disease breaks out, it will actually affect a random sample of members. The online society then works out for itself what to do with them.

On board is an area of the ship known as the Science Park. Here we will operate a wiki of science and articles related to the issues thrown up by the socio-anthropological experiment that is Exodus169. Articles can be of any related topic, from the psychological effects of separation from Earth, to the effect of solar radiation on algal growth, or prospective methods of propulsion for a ship of this kind / the means of defending such a craft from the potentially deadly effects of space dust and rocks impacting at ultra high speeds. The possible avenues for discourse are enormous.

Those who are prepared to contribute articles prior to the launch of Exodus169 will receive a years free access to enhanced content as well as ‘Founder member status’, which will become significant as the site progresses, and the underlying architecture of the site evolves to allow ever increasing levels of interactivity.

There is no simple term to describe the Exodus169 experience, it is so much more than a game, so much more than a piece of entertainment, and at its heart will seek to harness the amazing potential of mass collaboration to evolve a truly revolutionary web experience. The Users will be at beating heart of this journey – they will simultaneously follow a story and feedback and evolve the entire experience. Jump on board at the beginning and you will cement your place in the history of Exodus169.


Cassian Hall (Producer Exodus169)

If you’re interested, drop me an email and I shall forward it on to Cassian.

First Aid refresher course.

9 06 2008

I’m off on my First Aid refresher course today and tomorrow, but hopefully by tomorrow I’ll have something rather spiffy to talk about.

As in there’s something in the works, not as in “Oh, god, I hope I’m magically interesting by tomorrow” 😉

Finding the time to write.

7 06 2008

One of the loveliest people I know wrote the following on the Pantechnicon forum:

Right, how do you all fit it in?

How do I fit in everything that I want to do? There’s the weekly SMALLVILLE review, the movie reviews, the book reviews, the zombie article and the superman article (the latter of which I haven’t even started thinking about) all of which I desperately want to do, and do well. But I also have a wife and kids and a full time job, and I feel like I am neglecting them at the moment.

There’s more, obviously, but that’s the pertinent stuff right there. And while there are answers over on the forum, I thought it’d be nice to go into this issue in depth.

So just how do you find the time to write?

I could give you a huge answer. I could write a whole essay on this. But there’s a simple, one-word answer: Prioritise.

If you’re struggling to find the time to write, it’s time to sit down and ask yourself what’s the most important thing in your life. Then the next important. And the next. Go on, list them. Write them down.

Don’t worry if writing isn’t at the top of your list. Very few people have that luxury, and realistically keeping a roof over your head or spending time with your family is more important to most. But if you’re really serious about wanting to write, it should be in the top five. And if you find that it isn’t, well, relax a little. There’s nothing wrong with not living, breathing, and shitting writing.

Hopefully, though, if you really want to make a go of writing for a living your list will look something like this:

  1. Loved one / children / family commitments
  2. Paying the mortgage / rent
  3. Writing
  4. Some hobby that involves getting out once in a while

Before you get too excited that you got writing into the top five, think on this: I write for a living (full-time, non-fiction), and I earn what I like to think is a respectable wage. A friend who is a freelancer (writing a mixture of articles, journalism and fiction) is on about half that. Another friend who is a full-time journalist is on even less. So, basically, the more fun and interesting a time you have while writing, the less income you will have if it’s your job (and the freelancer’s been a freelancer for years).

Whatever you want to write, be it short stories, novels, journalistic pieces, how-to books or anything else, you then need to find the time. Having identified just how important it is to you, you then come to the magic part.

Time management.

Oh, it sounds scary, but really it’s not. Diarise for a week and see just what you’re spending your time on. Write everything down. Are you spending half an hour on the train every day? That’s half an hour you could spend writing. Are you watching a film a week at 90 minutes per film? That’s 90 minutes of writing time. Are you playing computer games for two hours a day? Cut back to an hour and use the other hour to write.

Once you’ve identified all the spare half-hours in your day, start scheduling. Allocate that time. Trust me, it’s the only way to break your old time-wasting habits and start new, productive ones. Eventually you’ll be so used to spending your time writing that you won’t need this, but humour me for now.

And, crucially, don’t rob yourself of all your downtime. You need fun in your life, and your writing batteries need to recharge. They feed on fun, on interaction with the outside world, on films and friends and hobbies, and if you don’t top them up, you’ll hit the dreaded Writer’s Block sooner or later (luckily we already know how to beat that).

Don’t worry if all the time you’ve accrued through this tots up to an hour a week. Just spend that hour writing. Ignore idiots who tell you that you should be writing ten hours a week, two hours a day, or any other arbitrary amount of time. Write for as much time as suits you, and write as many words as suit you.

Finally, don’t forget to reassess how you spend your time now and then. Priorities change as our lives change. You may find yourself with more spare time, or less. You may find that new things come along which are of a higher priority than your writing, whether short or long-term. If you are in control of your time, you’ll find that you have more of it.


12 05 2008

There will be a three-week hiatus to this blog. Later in the week I am off to Japan, and won’t be back until the end of May. Tempted as I was to get a laptop and blog from Japan, I decided against such a frivolous waste of cash, so you’ll have to manage without me for a while 😉