An Introduction

Hello There!

I’m Michael James Nemet, welcome to my blog! By day I make tech go and by night I make fictional people that I fill up with a clown car’s worth of trauma to throw into the most chaotic situation I can think of with a good helping of science-fiction world-building for flavor. My main endeavor is the Korszak series of novels and its associated universe. Currently, I’m in revisions because I wrote this series back to front which meant there’s a ton of stuff to clean up. Believe me, for the love of god if you’re gonna write a series please buy a book on craft! I personally am a huge fan of “The Snowflake Method” by Randy Ingermanson and “Plot Gardening” by Chris Fox, as I sit somewhere halfway between pantser (make it up as I go along) and plotter (using a detailed outline); “Terrible Writing Advice” on YouTube is awesome too. Don’t worry, not sponsored, they all definitely have no clue I exist.

A bit of background: I’m from rural Ohio and I’m a huge technology enthusiast. Ever since I learned how back in my school days I’ve been building computers for fun and whenever new technologies came out I’d usually be an early-adopter. After graduation I got work as a sysadmin and soon after learned just how much insanity happens behind the scenes in the tech world which led me to dig myself a nice comfy Linux bunker. Fortunately, when a certain big evil megacorp you already can guess I have disdain for announced they would be recording everything you do on your computer with a pinkie promise to never collect it (despite having quite a history of doing just that), I was already fully moved out. Outside of that, I’m a big PC gamer who’s partial to RPGs, I love to learn everything I can about science and history, and I have way too much fun critiquing media. And for the pseudoscience inclined, I’m an INTJ 5w6 SP/SX and my alignment is Chaotic Evil. For actual psychology, I was diagnosed with… let’s just stick with calling it “Chaotic Evil” for politeness, a good ten years ago and I only learned I was dyslexic a couple years back (which explained quite a lot about my editing needs, ngl).

Creative Process

Like I said, I’m a huge fan of Linux and the open-source world. With open-source development, you not only have the benefit of being able to study someone else’s code to learn and even contribute too, you have insurance via its licensing that it will remain open via its licensing which works as a sort of Ulysses Pact. This essentially prevents projects from being co-opted and crushed, ensuring that the work goes on and people can continue to benefit from it. My goal with my own project is to accomplish something very similar via the “Creative Commons” licensing used across my works. Beyond telling stories that mean something to me, and hopefully to my readers as well, I want to make a world that’s large enough for people to tell stories of their own in. The last thing I want is to see yet another sci-fi universe get gobbled up by some big publisher or studio that then clamps down on fans just trying to enjoy it, so it’s my hope that approaching fiction in this manner will allow me to freely share my creations with you. To start, I figured I’d give you a bit of insight to my approach and break things down a little.

How I Write

Yep, that first paragraph was foreshadowing as I’m what you would call a plot gardener or a snowflaker. I know where I’m going and roughly the stops I plan to take along the way, but the route to actually get there starts off a blur to me. What this means in practice is I will plot out my beginning, midpoint, and ending, plus other milestones I need to hit along the way, and then flesh out the connective tissue between them all until I’m down to a scene level. Once I’m ready to write a scene, I’ll usually “pants” my way (make it up as I go along) through the section based on how I know my characters work. After the first attempt, I’ll cycle back around and tighten it up, making things a bit more structured and logically consistent, and removing fog, filter, and fluff to make sure I don’t break immersion. This approach gives me a nice balance between the naturalness and realistic flow of pantsing with the pacing and intentionality of plotting. It also helps me avoid certain pitfalls, such as the “slideshow syndrome” that you get with plotting or the characters running off and doing their own thing you often get with pantsing.

Characters

Of course, in order to know how those characters will act in any given scene, they first need developed. For me, this is the most important part of writing. Characters are how we experience the story and its world through, grounding and attaching us to the narrative. Notably, because of this every character needs to be part of the story, which means the first thing I usually do is figure out just what the character thinks about the situation they’re in. Why do they feel that way? What in their background made them think like that? With that as a starting point, I can then fill in the gaps by adding details of who they are. For major characters, this process is repeated A LOT until I have a thorough understanding of them as a person; even taking this to an extreme of throwing characters in completely unrelated situations to see how they’ll act and/or react.

At this point, at least for my main cast, I will dive into personality classification. I use Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI) for their personality, using it as the “filter” which the character experiences the story through and then combine that with Enneagram types to understand their motivation & “driving force” before finally adding their instinctual sub-type to flesh out their basic reactions. The end result, in theory (a personality theory!!!) at least, is a well-rounded, believable human, alien, or whatever. And yes, you’re right! That little bit at the beginning about pseudoscience was actually foreshadowing all along! I might just know what I’m doing after all (maybe). Divergence aside, this approach allows me to know exactly how my characters tick. From here, I make sure I have all these little details written down somewhere, usually in the form of a character sheet, to which I add all sorts of minor details like appearance, stats, relationships, life events, and anything else that might one day be relevant.

World-Building

This is where the fun begins! When it comes to world-building, I love to unleash my inner five year old and spam the question “why” into every possible place I can. This can mean thinking of how events might logically unfold to create the future or just coming up with a cool idea and seeing how it fits into the world. The whole point of this is to jump-down that rabbit hole you found at the bottom of the current rabbit hole that you fell into after going off the beaten path which you were only on because of a side tangent to your main divergence. In practice, that means figuring out how small things effect the bigger picture.

As an example, in my Korszak series a certain character uses a futuristic baton that can absorb potential energy and release it as kinetic energy; strong enough to crack open starship hulls if used right. This idea led me to the creation of capacitors which store physical energy (think springs on steroids) for later release, which in turn led me to the idea that tech of this era can manipulate gravity, that took me to explanations for my FTL drives, artificial gravity, power generation, general propulsion, plus a myriad of other things in my world. This opened up narrative possibilities while providing rules and limits on how things work, which helps create stakes for situations as you know what can and cannot happen in any given scenario.

From there, I figure out how these addtions fit into the wider world. How does this alter civilization on a wider scale? How does this effect day-to-day life? What do my characters think of it (if they even know it exists)? How might I include this in a scene? The goal is to let your mind go as wild as possible, finding every possible little excursion you can to come up with even more, and then figure out how this fits into your narrative. When done right, it goes beyond just being fun or believable, it can transform your world into something unique and become an iconic feature of your story.

My Workflow

Once of the first things people will ask writers when they’re looking to start writing is what software they use to write. This seemed weird to me, at first, but as my writing improved and my worlds developed further, I soon found myself buried under countless piles of notes and working with friends to review my work. Word didn’t cut it anymore, so I switched to Google Docs only for them to go nuts and start flagging the number “1” as an unappealable copyright violation, which made me realize how little you can actually trust cloud storage anymore (it’s somebody else’s computer after all). I then tried out Scrivener, which I liked, but I found I often fought with formatting more than I actually would write in it.

That’s when I decided to take a page from the developer’s handbook and do everything in plain-text nested in a carefully curated directory tree. I completely overhauled my notes and put everything into .txt documents, even going as far as to spend an entire weekend perfecting my directory structure (INTJ, remember? lol). This still didn’t solve my need for syncing across devices though, but as I already was using a program called Syncthing to do this for other data, adding my writing directory a given. Git would also make sense for this use as it’s built for version control, and I may even integrate it into my workflow for that purpose, but currently its job will be to sync my notes with my public repo (as soon as that’s ready).

Obsidian

It was at this point that I finally caved and tried out Obsidian, which had a familiar VSCodium-like interface with its nested directory tree and file list sidebar, tiling windows, and even a Vim mode (if you don’t already know, you don’t want to know). Better still, it was designed as a markdown editor. I already knew a tiny bit of HTML, which made typing in Markdown was as easy as sending a Discord message for me. Markdown is basically “Plain-Text 2.0”, which means I can use anything I want to read and edit it from now until the end of time regardless of if Obsidian is installed or not (I will even sometimes write in Vim if I really need to focus), and if anything ever happens to Obsidian or its no longer viable for whatever reason I can take my data anywhere as it’s still just plain-text documents.

The big feature which took my workflow up to eleven was the internal-linking which let me connect my notes and visually see it in a graph view, keeping my documents neatly organized in their directories while I could see an overview of how everything relates to each other. Furthering the idea of writing like a developer, I even added a GitHub-style “Heatmap Calendar” to my “Home” note which would pull data from daily notes generated by a custom template I made so I could track my writing habit (thanks for the tip, by the way, Chris). I’m a man who brings order to chaos and chaos to order, so this workflow was ideal for me personally. Using the tools I had, I front-loaded all the hard work to make getting going as seamless as possible so I could just sit down and start writing.

Of course, every writer will be different, so if you’re thinking about writing I wouldn’t say to do what I did but rather to only look at how I do things while you figure out what works best for you personally (and to clarify, I’m not sponsored by any of these people). The key takeaway being to start writing, you can figure this stuff out later, but put pen to paper or keyboard to text editor and make fake people do stuff. If you want to write, let me be the first to say I believe in you, it’s a process and you’ll never stop developing it or learning; the only way to truly write the wrong way is to not write in the first place. And, speaking of writing…

The Korszak Series

The whole reason I’m here, my main series of novels and their spin-offs all taking place in my “open-source world”. Most of it takes place in the late 24th century as the Galactic Commonwealth wages war against a succession movement called the Centaurus Pact. The series follows Commonwealth Lieutenant Jenna Carter, a member of the clandestine Special Information Forces, who’s dangerous life as an operative leads her into a confrontation with a Guardian of Reality named Marton Korszak as she’s caught in the middle of a temporal plot. It’s not long before Jenna finds herself exiled by her own government on board the Guardian’s timeship, the GCS Nobel; caught between her duty to the Commonwealth and the fate of the timeline itself.

The series started with a simple premise: “What would people who lived in a sci-fi universe consider to be sci-fi?” From that idea came the relatively grounded galaxy that Jenna grew up in which is contrasted by the more esoteric world Marton and the Guardians are from. In the alternate reality the series takes place, Earth was uplifted by the Commonwealth after the Rhusens made contact after discovering the world in ruins after World War IV. From there, Humans quickly spread outward to fill the galaxy, becoming known as a warrior race and as effective manual laborers. Jenna specifically grew up in Shackleton, a small town in Antarctica, long after the ice caps had mostly melted. With Earth being a ruined backwater world, the only future she could see for herself was to join the military.

Conversely, the Guardians of reality are unlike anything anyone from the Commonwealth has seen before. They’re masters of time, able to travel throughout history to intervene when required to prevent damage to the timeline. Through use of their exotic “void” technology, relying on opening holes in reality, they can alter the fundamental laws of the universe for their own purposes. Long believed to be nothing more than myth, exaggerations of old tales told by spacers, their existence was kept a closely guarded secret from the rest of the galaxy. Of course, when Jenna finds herself face to face with a real one, it’s not long before her life is turned upside down.

The first trilogy of books starts with Jenna uncovering a temporal plot, only for it to be a pawn of greater designs by a malevolent entity long believed dead by the Guardians. Following that, she and Marton find themselves caught in the final moments of the universe in the year 2047 as reality comes to an end and they must face time’s darkest hour. Lastly, in the third book, Jenna returns to Antarctica after the end of the war only to find it under enemy occupation, forcing her to face to finally face the demons of her past if she’s t have any hope of saving Earth’s future. That last one being the “end of the beginning” as it sets up all subsequent entries into the series. In addition, the prequel will follow the origins of the series’ main villains during the formation of the Guardians of Reality, which potentially may even spin off into its own series.

What Now?

Wow, you’re still here? I guess that means you enjoyed my little introductory spiel enough to make it this far, in which case welcome again! I tried to make it kinda fun, a few jokes here and there, generally keeping it casual compared to some of the more academic topics I’ve got coming down the pipeline. Speaking of, I’ve got A LOT coming soon, chief among them for this site being the public repository of my notes. I’m a chaotic mess of organization, so my existing notes are exactly in the state you’d expect. That means I’ll slowly be working through them to make them legible and then getting them uploaded; possibly with an accompanying blog post on the subject of each note.

The main point of all this is the series though, and for that I’ve got a ton of writing to do. My beta readers pretty much unanimously agreed that a new section to fill a time skip will greatly benefit the story, so that will be quite a bit of work for me to do. I’ve also got a massive opinion piece / “thesis for fun” on the subject of AI art coming soon, which I’m sure will draw me ire from certain “bros” out there. I’ve also got plans to cover a wide variety of topics ranging from writing tips to media critiques and maybe the odd bit of Linux stuff here and there for good measure. Plus there’s all the social media stuff I’ve got to figure out, which will be an ironically awkward line to walk being both a privacy nut and needing to at least somewhat exist publicly. I’ve also tossed around the idea of doing these blog posts as YouTube videos as well, making it a bit easier of a format for most people to follow. The bottom line? Lots of exciting stuff is coming soon and this is only the beginning. I hope you enjoy your stay! 🙂

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