Editing for Incremental Improvement

Incremental improvement means taking small steps consistently. This can lead to massive growth and change.” I share this to explain what I am doing, as a writer, to improve my book each day until it gets published. My recent editing has been taking time to make small changes to improve each paragraph, page and chapter. But, and it’s a big but, I have to do this consistently in order to see the results. I just hope my readers do too :-).

It’s All About AI

AI, or Artificial intelligence, leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind. Every day, the news carries AI articles—stories of job losses and cloned personalities that threaten the very fabric of modern society. The reality is far more frightening. AI is developing at a super-fast pace and will impact us all dramatically within the new few years. ChatGPT is a chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched on November 30, 2022. Based on a large language model, it enables users to refine and steer a conversation towards a desired length, format, style, level of detail, and language. It’s a great tool for writing essays and scripts (e.g. for real estate advertising). But, ChatGPT is just the tip of an iceberg. My new novel is based on AI and how it may threaten the banking industry. In fact. my pitch has a focus on AI: Can Artificial Intelligence topple the global economy or restore financial equality? Depends whose side you’re on…

In the wrong hands, AI is difficult to overcome. What happens when a group of devious computer nerds steal your ID and, along with that, steal your voice? Think of the implications. How can you prove that your duplicate is not you? How can you convince your bank manager or boss that you are who you say you are, when another online “twin” makes the same claims?

Oh, it’s going to be a bumpy ride into the unknown with AI and a clever group of thieves have already planned the heist to outdo all heists. How will they do this? Well, you will have to wait for the release of my new book. 🙂

Up Periscope!

Up Periscope is a 1959 World War II submarine film directed by Gordon Douglas. We often think the phrase “up periscope” is used when the skipper of a submarine wants to check his surroundings. I thought as much, but then realised that modern submarines don’t have a traditional periscope. In fact, they have two “periscopes”, or rather photonics masts which house instruments for not just observing the visual environment, but for collecting a range of scientific data.

“To raise either scope on a 688i boat (3rd generation Los Angeles class fast attack submarine), you just have to rotate a metal ring that actuates via servo the hydraulic pump to lift or lower your desired scope. And it’s not just the captain who does this. (The guy has other things to do than just look through a scope). Any officer who is qualified Officer Of the Deck does this as part of their job, and they announce whichever scope they’re raising or lowering as a courtesy to everyone else is control. Example; “Raising #2 Scope!”

This announcement lets the ships control party (Dive, Helmsman, Planes-man, Chief of the Watch) know that the ship cannot descend below a certain depth because that would limit the scopes visual / sensor abilities. Also, the boat cannot go beyond a certain speed with a scope in the air as driving too fast could potentially damage it due to hydrodynamic drag.

Radio, Fire Control and the Quartermaster appreciate knowing that there’s a scope in the air because the scope does more than just see. It’s packed with sensors that feed information to either of the three watch stations. Information like the presence of another ocean-going vessel that projects its own RADAR signal. Depending on that RADAR signal strength, Radio uses it as a proximity warning that helps determine whether to inform Control if we should dive due to fear of being run over by the otherwise unassuming ocean liner. (It’s happened before.) Radio will also use this opportunity to clear the broadcast of any necessary message traffic both sent and received. Fire Control always like having tech in the air because it increases their tactical awareness. The Quartermaster (navigation plot) appreciates this too because they can use a scope to help realign with satellite navigation and reset the RLGN’s for further submerged navigation.”

In my new novel, I had to avoid the “up periscope” cliche, yet give readers a sense of this classic action. “Raising #2 Scope” helped.

Happy New Year and Linking Chapters

I hope you all enjoyed a great start to the New Year. Mine was a bit different, with two funerals just days apart. I had the honor of speaking at the funeral of a very good friend who was once my math teacher in senior high school. He and his family remained close to ours ever since and his life was remarkable, yet humble. The second was the passing of my older sister after a long illness. There is little to link these two events, except that both deceased had been teachers and both much loved.

As I turn back to my new novel I have been struggling to link Chapter Two with Chapter Three. The third chapter is a completely different setting (underwater in a submarine) with new characters. How could I link these to help the book flow for my readers?

The answer was having both Chapter Two and Three refer to the same place—in this case, Gibraltar. The connection was obvious, yet had eluded me for quite some time. Gibraltar is pivotal to my story and it felt better to bring it forward in the novel to have it centre in the reader’s mind.

And a very Merry Christmas to you all

As 2023 comes to a close, I just wanted to thank all my readers for joining me on this literary journey – one where I seek the golden key to finding the ‘right’ literary agent . May your Christmas be filled with peace and hope for a better future. Meanwhile, this season may allow you time to pause and relax and enjoy family time too. My Christmas wish? OK, here it is:

 

Christopher Robin

In a poetic moment I revisited AA Milne’s Buckingham Palace and wove it into my introduction to my new thriller-heist. Why? Well, that may not become obvious until the final chapter(s). Meanwhile, the protagonist suspects that the king does indeed know all about him! [BTW: my sister is called Robin and I was named Christopher]. And, like Alice, there is ‘time for tea’ in Chapter One for the protagonist, among the rising tension of being followed. Perhaps the obvious connection is that the protagonist is called Sir Christopher.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace
Christopher Robin went down with Alice
"Do you think the King knows all about me?"
"Sure to, dear, but it's time for tea" Says Alice


What’s the Point in Trying?

“There’s a statistic that circulates the publishing world that only one in six thousand writers will sign with a literary agent. And only a very small percentage of those will ever get published. So what’s the point in trying?”

Such a relevant question. Why climb Everest? Why row across an ocean? Why be a school principal? Why renovate another house? Why? Why? Why?

I’m going to struggle with a sensible answer, but here goes. I keep trying because I want to reach the greatest audience and I keep trying because I want my heist-thriller to be as polished as possible, which will not happen if I self-publish. Oh, there are many other illogical reasons too :-). Have I felt like giving up? Yes, and even more in recent days. Having a request for my full manuscript created hope to land a literary agent, but this was followed four weeks later by a “No.” After this glimmer of hope it was back to a full re-edit, and chapter reorganisation, before sending out a few more submissions. The recent rise of Artificial Intelligence, and a huge global interest in deep-sea submersibles (with the Titan implosion) should help propel my novel. I’m just waiting for a literary agent to agree.

But, the greatest reason is ‘persistence‘ – never giving up on a higher goal and I hope I am able to reach it soon.

Ruminate

When writing, the plot and characters are uppermost in my mind. It’s a subconscious thing and I find myself thinking about events in my novel while drifting off to sleep, only to have them punctuated by fresh thoughts. These make me force myself awake and make the necessary changes while they are fresh – “I’ll forget them in the morning,” I tell myself. There a catch though. In the morning, have to check that the new thought fits the storyline and doesn’t detract from it or overwhelm it; it has to enhance it to be effective. Ah the joys of ruminating – just going over and over my novel, like cows chewing grass:

 

The Pitch

The Pitch is a snazzy one liner that sums up a novel’s theme. My pitch changed while editing and my professional editor (ex Penguin Publishing) helped shape it into:

Can Artificial Intelligence topple the global economy or restore financial equality? Depends whose side you’re on…

Perhaps our global issue is not Big Brother organisations, but the machines they are building? Food for literary thought.

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