Re-reading Neuromancer

It’s interesting re-reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer after almost 40 years. So many of the things that made me drop my jaw back then feel cliched and overdone due to the huge influence of the novel in the intervening years.

Every time Case talks about the Matrix or navigating digital defenses and many other things I’m unconsciously disappointed in a “been there, done that” way. But those things didn’t exist as a cultural phenomenon when the book came out.

It’s a great book and exceptionally well-written. I’m enjoying the hell out of it, and truly it is one of the few cultural revolutionary books in history. It didn’t just change the SF genre. It changed our culture.

I’m going to read Bruce Sterling’s Schismatrix soon, as well. It was released less than a year after Neuromancer and the two pretty much established cyberpunk as a genre. Schismatrix never came close to having the influence of Neuromancer, although Sterling’s short stories in that world were highly influential, most likely on Gibson, as well. (Although both of them had been writing cyberpunk short stories for years, so a kind of collaborative influence was possibly at play). At the time, when I was around 18 years old, I remember fans gushing over both, but there being a small but animated group that felt Schismatrix was much more defining of cyberpunk in the world-building sense.

Moving From Scrivener to Word

I’m sometimes asked if writing screenplays has helped my novel or prose writing, and the answer is it has. It has improved my dialogue, but even more than that it has improved my ability to structure the narrative of a novel. As a result, I do a lot more moving of chapters in the writing process these days.

This creates an interesting challenge when you are taking a work where you move the chapters around and need to package it for a submission to an agent or publisher. In a lot of writing platforms, dynamically updating chapter numbers after these changes can’t be done.

The good news is that Scrivener allows you do to that, but I absolutely hate the Scrivener user experience and export functionality. Without fail, the document I export will have some issue with it or other. It’s not that Scrivener is bad software, it’s that it requires detailed understanding of the tool to make it work right, and I simply didn’t have the patience to figure all that out.

I tried Ulysses, which allows you to move chapters around easily via drag and drop, but Ulysses doesn’t provide any easy way to dynamically re-number chapters, making it unhelpful when putting together a submittable document.

Which brought me full circle to Microsoft Word. I never really saw Word as anything more than a word processor but in my frustration at the other options I looked at it more closely, and what do you know—there is an easy way to add chapter headings with one click. There’s an easy way to drag chapters and move them. And—amazingly—the chapter numbers dynamically update. I also have fallen in love with the Word styles palette.

It’s probably worth noting that I took a look at LibreOffice Writer, as well, and I was extremely impressed. That said, it didn’t have the all-in-one simplicity of Word.

So, after abandoning Word years ago, I am back and—in truth—loving it.

Wedding Day Revisions Are Complete

The road from short story to novel has been long and winding for Wedding Day, but we have reached our destination. After wonderful feedback from beta readers, the final revisions are done. Now to send it out to agents and perhaps a publisher or two. We shall see.

Next up for me is to go back and re-start the Thursday feature screenplay. That will be a lot of fun, and my goal is to have it done quickly as a lot of the work has already been completed.