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R.L. Akers talks about the mechanics of writing…

November 18, 2013




Hey Y’all,

This is the fifth in a series of posts interviewing new author R.L. Akers. R.L. has just released “Prometheus Rebound” a novel that tells the story about what happens when ET arrives in orbit. Except of being the nice, friendly, ET that Steven Spielberg created. The aliens in R.L.’s story have intentions on taking over.

The following is loosely translated from our conversation on October 11, 2013.


“Can we start with the mechanics of your writing style? I would assume that you are an outliner?”

R.L.A. “I wasn’t always, but yes, I’ve learned to work that way. For a new book project, I’ll create an outline in Microsoft Word where each bullet point corresponds with a proposed chapter. I’ll add dates for each, note the POV character, maybe add a few thoughts that I don’t want to lose as sub-bullet points. Sometimes I’ll color code by POV or subplot — all of that helps me get a sense for the flow and pacing of the overall narrative. Then as I start work on each chapter, I’ll do something similar, using major bullet points for key events in the chapter, with minor points for each paragraph or line of dialogue. The goal there is simply to get the thoughts on the page rapidly, without concern for exact wording. That too helps me get the pacing right, because pacing is hard to keep a feel for when I’m stopping every other sentence to research a concept or look up a word in my thesaurus.


“Do you know exactly where you are going before you write the scene?”

R.L.A. “When I’m outlining, no, not necessarily. Maybe the broad strokes, which is what I start with. Then I go in and fill-in the details, oftentimes making it up on the fly to satisfy a desire to slow the pace or explore a character. Generally by the time I’m actually writing prose, though, I have my bullets done and know where I’m going. Then I literally delete those bullet points as I replace them with the actual narrative text.


“How long are your chapters?”

R.L.A. “Generally 5000-8000 words per chapter, though I have a few more omniscient summary chapters that are very small, only a couple pages. I also deliberately scripted much longer chapters, 15,000+, for climaxes in the narrative. Naturally, I break those up into much smaller sections within each chapter. But all told, Prometheus Rebound is roughly 150,000 words.”


“Do you plan on a sequel?”

R.L.A. “In a sense… My next book, Prometheus Revealed, isn’t so much a sequel as it’s the other half of the story begun with Prometheus Rebound. All told, it’s literally one story that was too much to fit in a single volume, so I split it in an obvious place — at the point where our heroes finally make it to orbit to fulfill their mandate. Anyway, this second book — Prometheus Revealed — is already in its third draft. Mostly just editing work to be done at this point in anticipation of a spring 2014 release.”


“Is Prometheus Rebound in the genre of science fiction?”

R.L.A. “Before I answer that, let me say that I hate this question, largely because science fiction is a bit of a confused term. I think a lot of people think Star Wars or Star Trek when they think science fiction, simply because they involve aliens or are set in space, but I would think of those as space fantasy, or even space opera, as Star Wars has been categorized in the past. In other words, I feel like science fiction often carries a certain connotation for the fantastic that doesn’t really apply to my story. For my story, I truly set out to write scientific fiction, well researched and believable… and that’s tough to do, because you can’t just make up any goofy thing you want to suit the story. It can truly be limiting.”

“I read a science fiction author say once that good science fiction is taking one crazy, far-out concept as your premise, then writing a reasonable, believable story around it. That’s what I’ve set out to do here.”


Thanks R.L. Next week we will continue to discuss writing style. Until then, keep on rockin.

From → writing

  1. Thanks for another great post. I am totally an outliner. My book two got out of hand and is 154,000 words!!! Over 500 pages is a true essence of a novel!

    So… with all your research… could you be writing true science fiction? A new genre?

    • Thanks for the comments Karlene. I will pass on the thoughts to R.L.

      In my writing, I tried the outline, but I found it cumbersome and limited my creative thoughts.

      I admire that you brought home 154K words. That is so awesome, I don’t want to be a part of a book that drones on and on, but I do love a book that keeps the pace high for 500 pages. Cant wait to have time to read it.

  2. AGentleandQuiteSpirit permalink

    Thanks for sharing Rob. I can see the value of outlining like this, but I just can’t do it. I’ve tried. When I do it I then lose all interest in writing the book. So, my first rough draft ends up as my outline with the timeline being used on the side as the other outline and a cast of characters to help me keep everyone straight. But that happens while I’m writing or after the first rough draft is done. I love it how we all work a little differently!

    • Abby,

      I agree that I am not a outliner. My creative spirit just doesn’t work like that. But, I have found that mentally, I have a very exact idea of where I want the story to go. Before I put a single word down, I have mentally lived the entire novel or at least all of the major highlights of the story. I still need to finish number one novel, but mentally I have finished number four. Well, maybe not finished but I know exactly what the story will be.

      I have found that writing like that makes the process much easier because I already know the starting point and all of the major stops along the way. The fun creative side is free to weave its tangled path between the major stops along the way. It is those twists and turns that keep the excitement flowing. I hope it reads like that anyway.

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