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Project Announcement: “Viral Agents” – A Science Fiction Novel

Since about 2015, I have been keeping jottings on various creative writing projects. Some are probably best suited to short stories, but I felt that others had a good chance to become full-fledged novels. In November of 2017, I wrote the opening scene to one of these projects in a fit of inspiration and creativity. Then I set it aside for almost four years. Partly this was because I wasn’t prepared to focus on it, and partly because I knew I needed to learn a lot more about plotting, writing, and everything else that comes along with turning a blank page into a complete work. I read books on writing (a post for a different day, I’m sure). I plotted out my story. I developed my characters and themes, and at some point the only thing left to do was write.

So in August of 2021, I wrote practically every day, starting with only a chapter and a scene and about 5000 words. That first month was productive, but then things started to slow down. I would go long stretches without adding much, then do a quick burst for a few more thousand words. Certain points in the plot were especially sticky, and I to push through them without being certain at all that I had written the right thing.

Then, for NaNoWriMo this year, I realized that if I added 50K words to the 65K that I already had, I would almost certainly be near the end. I was right, and I finally typed “THE END” on the first draft on December 9th, 2022.

Okay, so what the Hell do I have here, and why should you care at all about it?

“Viral Agents” (working title) is a near-future hard science fiction novel for adults. In the world of the novel, abundant computational power and advances in molecular biology have resulted in the new world of Synthetic Biology, where designer viruses can prevent disease, improve health, and even confer knowledge and experiences. This power is heavily regulated by the governments of the world and as a result there are only a handful of megacorporations allowed to create these viruses. Of course, that doesn’t stop some of the more enterprising outsiders from trying . . .

I don’t want to go into too much more detail, because I expect many things may change between the first draft (which is a pile of shit that no one, anywhere, gets to read, ever) and the second draft, which I expect to be something fit for humans to at least provide comment on.

For the moment, having just finished the first draft yesterday, Viral Agents will go on the shelf until at least February 2023. Then, with some fresher eyes, I’ll be able to start the long editing process towards producing a readable draft. Ideally, I would like this process to take less than 6 months, but I am allowing for upwards of 10. The plan at that point would be to present the work to Beta Readers (I am thinking between 5 and 10 for this first round), make changes according to that feedback, and then polish the thing off in a way that I can live with.

From there, I will start querying publishing agents to see if there is any interest from the traditional publishing houses. If there isn’t, I am prepared to self-publish when the work is complete (and, to be honest, I may select this option from the get-go, but it’s still early).

So, if you’re interested in seeing this project develop, make sure to give the blog a follow. I’ve got a real taste for this writing thing, and I don’t think Viral Agents will be the last project I develop. If you fine folk are interested, I may also start putting together some advice-type pieces, explaining my process for all things writing. I anticipate that the next project will be much more visible – I won’t go from a three-year silence into suddenly having a complete first draft.


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Derek Jacobs

Chicago,IL 60606

A website

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