Friday, January 21, 2011

Is Content Any Different from Software?

I repeatedly have this thought: my novels are like software.  I think I've been seeing them that way because I revise, and revise, and revise.  Each revision is a new version with different features and different characters sometimes too.  I might add a minor character here or take out one there.

I'm reminded of the scene in Apollo 13 where the astronauts need to do a controlled burn to adjust their course.  Using only the Earth as a fixed point in space, they have one person controlling the up-and down control, and one person on the side-to-side control.

I love that scene because they pitch wildly in all directions for a few seconds and end up right where they need to be.  That's seems to be what I've been doing, only with more gyrations as I finally settle in on my target.

As I revise again, this time for punctuation, sentence variety, and some modern idioms, I believe I'm finally close to my target.  This is really good news because book 2 is nearly ready and I really don't want to go through all the same mistakes again.  I'm sure I won't and I'm sure there will be new challenges.

But to get back to my original question, I think the answer is yes, during the writing, revision, and editing phases of a book, your story is a lot like software.  When it is published in paper, it becomes something else; something more like a sculpture that you can't change easily, if at all.

eBooks change that.  eBooks can be revised the way software can be.  I do know if that's good or bad, but it is a fact. I guess the question, even if I can change it, why would I want to?  If it is done and complete and a good story, move on, right?  Well, maybe.  eBooks allow us, as writers, to test all or part of story and get feedback.  Essentially, that's what I've done without realizing it.  That wasn't my intent, but that's what has happened.  And with that feedback, I can revise it once and move on.

This is just one more way the technology changes the way we work and the process we can use.

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