On Writing No Enemy Within

This post contains SPOILERS. If you have not finished No Enemy Within you should back out and come back when you finish. 😉

Pretty spoiler space by FanArts Series

When I started creating my series bible (January/February 2009) for Lantean Legacy I wrote down a few things and it went like this:

1. Sentient Atlantis
2. Abandoned by Earth
3. Left for Dead in Pegasus (I called it this for MONTHS)
4. Earth gets told to fuck off by the expedition
5. Will use Latin for the “Ancient language” because that makes the most sense.

After I had my basic idea I started to thinking about the mental gifts the Alterans had before the ascended. Gifts we didn’t see in any of the people in the Alteran galaxy (Ori episodes) except for the priors of course which weren’t the “normal” for that galaxy.

So, I started thinking about how they might have come to have the mental abilities and their crazy life span. It bothered me that Elizabeth got old in stasis pad after 10 thousand years but that one Ancient chick apparently hung out in a stasis pod frozen in ice for a very long while and came out looking like a super model. Okay, so what about the Ancients that got so old they couldn’t leave the stasis pods on the Aurora because they got too old after 10,000 years? Then there was Merlin (frowns). Just how long was he in that cave? Okay, so the mythology for the Ancients was a little screwy on the canon front and as always when canon doesn’t suit me or confuses me I just toss it out a window. (waves good bye to canon)

I knew that this was going to my big space opera series which meant I was in a perfect place to pick some of my favorite elements from different sci-fi movies and TV series and play with them. I knew immediately that 2001, The Matrix, Star Trek, and Farscape were on my list.

The first time I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, I spent most of the movie thinking—dude, turn back and watch that computer! It’s out to get you! Thankfully I was able to keep these comments to myself otherwise my then boyfriend might not have later become my husband.

The idea for The Atlantis Collective (Ally), of course, came from 2001 and a first person shooter game I have called HALO. In HALO, there is an AI who often appears in holographic form. Once she was born I picked up elements from Star Trek and their use of holograms in Next Generation and Deep Space 9. I only ever watched one episode of Voyager but I know that the Doctor was in fact a hologram. In the Star Trek world holograms are very sophisticated and complex and I wanted that imagery for Ally.

The creation of Theseus actually came in the writing but I knew I wanted the city to be living organic metal when I set out the basic plot. I will say the story changed a lot during/after the first beta because the first draft was only 37,000 and when I sent it to Chris King (December 2009). She returned it with 247 comments and the words “smut would be good” in the body of her email as there was no sex in it. Amongst her comments was a request for “more” on the matter of Ally’s children.

So Ladyholder did her beta (January 2010) for what would amount to the “first beta round” of the fic. She sent it back with 201 comments and a link to the Stargate timeline (not kidding). Her devotion to canon is charming but I’m slowly but surely dragging her away from it. It helps, actually, that there is no new canon for her to bask in.

I knew that I wanted to explore the living ship concept from Farscape and I wanted to write something different on the Sentient!Atlantis front. For a while I went back and forth on whether I wanted to do an AI or a living creature for the City and finally I just said—fuck it, I’ll do both. So I did.

Highjacking mythology for fictional purposes is Stargate’s standard operating procedure so I just threw myself at Google and eventually found an article about Theseus and then I started throwing down some names. I always knew that Atlas would be one of Ally’s children from almost the beginning but I had no intention of really introducing the children in the first book until Chris requested it.

So, I started building Theseus history and I knew he had to come Altera because in canon the Ancients used a “ship” to flee the Ori. I thought about that ship for a while and considered—oh, what if it was alive and it grew into the city? Then I wrote all that and Ladyholder said “hold up, girl, Atlantis is a hell of a lot older than 15,000 years” and she showed me a YouTube video to prove it. (grin)

But that information was fascinating and it allowed for the creation of a larger mythology for Theseus’ species that I would eventually call the Levyathans in honor of Moya from Farscape. The origin of the word leviathan is fascinating and I spent a few hours reading about that when I first got started.

leviathan
1382, from L.L. leviathan, from Heb. livyathan “dragon, serpent, huge sea animal,” of unknown origin, perhaps related to liwyah “wreath,” from base l-w-h- “to wind, turn, twist.”

It was easy for me to see how stories of Theseus growing and changing in the ocean on Earth might have lead to the word “leviathan” and the mythology around sea beasts in Earth’s history. It fell nicely into the Atlantis legend and the Greek mythology I wanted to use for the naming of the children again because I was in love with the idea of calling one of the children Atlas.

Sometime during the first beta Miko got a new husband. I hesitate to even tell you who I had her originally married to (the primal screams would be horrific I’m sure) and she got pregnant. That came in the writing and I was like “whoa, chick, you didn’t plot that!” but it was there and I liked it so I kept it.

After developing Theseus, Ally, and his children—it was VERY obvious where the ATA genetics and the long lifespan of the Ancients came from in this AU. Obviously, it came from Theseus himself. The choice to link Theseus and the expedition genetically was rather organic after that. It made sense to me—the empathy, the mental gifts, and the genetic requirement in Ancient technology. All of it just made a crazy amount of sense in my head. I’m still not sure how well it translated in the writing.

The Citizen Induction Center is actually my little nod to The Matrix. I’ve always thought the coolest part of the movie series was the part where they could “plug in” and get KUNG-FU downloaded into their brains. You can’t beat that with a stick on the pure awesome front. In order for John and the others to interact with Theseus mentally so he and Ally could teach them what they needed to know they would need the gene therapy he’d once given the Alterans. It made sense to combine the two things together—gene therapy and kick ass “in your head” training that they would have to take into the real world and practice.

Also, along this time I decided to reboot that whole “exploding tumor” bullshit concept into something more useful which is where the Dead Man’s Switch came from. I knew that Ford wouldn’t survive the first book (sorry!) but I didn’t want him to go out like he had in canon so I gave him a very heroic death. It still pisses me off that TPTB made him a homicidal/suicidal drug addict but I digress.

Okay, so I sort of shelved No Enemy Within at that point because Chris and Ladyholder both were decimating what was then book 2 of the series (In the Silence) and I wanted to see what would shake out in their comments and how it would relate to the first book.

I busied myself with Ties That Bind and Sentinels of Atlantis. I’d like to say that while they were working on Lantean Legacy that both of these ladies were still actively doing beta work for TTB and SoA. This means I’m not the only one keeping the details of FOUR separate AUs in their head because at one point in a discussion one of them pointed out to me “No, wait, that didn’t happen in SoA – that happened in What Might Have Been” – BLUSH. It was hardly the last time we’d have to remind each other of that either.

So, around May 2010 I picked up No Enemy Within and started working through Ladyholder’s first beta round and the end result was that I added around 16,000 words to it and then I fiddled with it a lot and made new things, and deleted about 23,000 words and rewrote several sections. I have 2 “scrap files” for this series with about 45,000 words of narrative that will probably get recycled into later books.

In early July of 2010 it finally crossed my mind that In the Silence was actually book 3 in this series. Ladyholder and I had a big brainstorming session for books 4 and 5. It promises to be a screaming good time. In the middle of July I decided I was “finished” with book 1 and both Chris and Ladyholder geared up for what amounted to the third round of beta. Ladyholder got first jab and sent me a file with 247 comments which I fixed and then sent off to Chris who was kinder (grin) and returned with only 67 comments.

My first draft was around 37,000 words. The second draft was 59,000 words and the final was 67,000 and some change. The amount of hand-holding, beta, and support from Ladyholder and Chris King cannot even be measured!

So, I sent it off to Djaddict (who had graciously agreed to be my grammar nazi for my McShep Match entry and got press-ganged into what has all the appearances of a production team for Lantean Legacy) at the end of July who waged a WAR on me in line edits and returned the monster far sooner than I actually expected considering its size and my pure lack of respect for commas and other grammar type situations.

I wrote John’s last line which is a homage to Ripley’s last line in Alien during the plotting stages. I knew from the beginning that would be the last thing he’d say to Earth for a while.

Well, that’s how that happened and questions are welcome on this thread as long as they are not related too closely to plot I’ll answer them.

Keira

Keira Marcos

In my spare time I write fan fiction and lead a cult of cock worshippers on Facebook. It's not the usual kind of hobby for a "domestic engineer" in her 30's but we live in a modern world and I like fucking with people's expectations.

142 Comments:

  1. So, I sent it off to Djaddict who… and got press-ganged into what has all the appearances of a production team for Lantean Legacy

    Oooooh! I like being part of a team – do we get t-shirts?

    at the end of July who waged a WAR on me in line edits

    *blinks*

    War? I thought it was only a “police action.” lol

    The best part of being a beta is getting some insight into the writing process but this has been even better, I love to see the evolution of a story.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • LOL.

      😉

      You didn’t feel like you’d fought a battle after the second time you did it?

      • No, just felt lucky that I got to read it again.

        Oh, and I know what you mean about re-writing something that you lost because I am sure I made some “insightful” comments the first time around that I couldn’t recreate! 🙂

    • Djaddict i totally forgot to thanks you for your incredible participation, free to punish me… i’m kinky this morning, storm always makes that to me lol !
      I can’t write like the others readers but i can make some stupids and cool arts with my fingers, so free to ask if you want something, anytimes.

  2. Love your insight into your process as both a tech writer and editor in RL I’m always interested in how other people handle complex projects.

    If it’s not a big spoiler, which citizens stayed behod with the non-asshole mainlanders until they can gate to Lantea? My guess would be someone like Bates or Stackhouse and Markham.

    I’m also assuming Chase Harris with his background in ship design, will be instrumental and crafting the ship around baby Ares. I have a weird image of him starting out as a puppyish puddlejumper before growing into a warship.

    • I pictured Teyla (of course) Bates, Gideon Moore, one of the doctors (Biro) and a nurse (at least), as well as some marines to keep them as safe as possible during the transition.

      Yeah– McKay & Chase will be with Ares as he grows as much as possible but never physically since the NCL is isolated.

  3. Absolutely brilliant! Just an incredible read! Worth every moment to have stayed up late to read this! I am one seriously happy camper for having devoured every word and will just as happily curl up to re-read…re-read again and again. (contented sigh) I am going to have very good dreams this night. Thank you thank you thank you all for a wonderful read!

  4. I’m so pleased that there’s going to be a follow-up to this book!

    RE: the stasis pod conundrum — over the course of a million or so years and in and around two separate galaxies, we can’t expect all stasis pods to behave the same way. It would be like expecting modern-day cars to be built like and work like Model Ts. The whole object of a car is to get you from point A to point B, but way it does that can vary by quite a bit; a stasis pod is built to preserve life over a long period of time but, likewise, the way it does that can also vary quite a bit!

    This also means that John must have aged a few years in The Last Man, when AI!Rodney put him in stasis for 700+ years. Couldn’t have been too much, as nobody made a fuss about it.

  5. Wow!!! That’s amazing.

    There has been a lot of work involved into this story and it shows. I wanted to add my thanks to your wonderful betas. This story grew out of Keira’s mind but it was refined with the help she received from you guys. Huge thanks on behalf of the readers, we dearly appreciate the effort, it bore fruition to splendid results.

    Again loved the story to pieces and thanks for posting.

  6. OMG! I’ve been following you other works faithfully, so when I got the notice of this new addition, I knew it would be spectacular. Of course, I had to wait for a time when I could sit down and read it in its entirety, as doing otherwise would be pretty much impossible (I’ve been known to lose sleep b/c there’s a new chapter out and I made the mistake of starting it late at night, and then didn’t want to stop reading it before I was done).

    I love the re-use of your various characters, and can’t wait to read the next installation (though I understand – and look forward to the fact that – Ring of Fire is next).

    All that being said, your writing (including the work of your incredible team) is of such high caliber that I believe it is more worthy of being published than many other works I have read. (Even with it being based on/including parts of various series.)

  7. Thanks so much for the insight into the writing process. I bow to your superior authory goodness!!!! As a wannabe I would like to know if you feel that every story or series requires a bible and do you outline every story you write?

    • If I have a plot (lol) I have an outline. It can be small or quite large depending on the project I have in mind. I always do a “bible” for a series — it helps if I start the bible in the beginning because it prevents me from writing myself into a hole.

  8. Just a round of applause to you and your Betas!!!! Y’all doing AMAZING things with words!

  9. Just joined and can’t believe it took me this long to find you. Excellent story and please tell me how to find book 2! I love Rodney and John together!

    • Book 2 stalled due to creative differences with myself.

      • I could hire a mediator to try to get the creative differences worked out? Or does bribery work? Or begging? Thank you for writing such wonderful stories and when everything is worked out I will be there to read it! Thank you

        • I never noticed this final writing after the last chapter of NEW but I am glad I now have, it certainly explains why you write better then 98% of all other (fanfic and not fanfic) writers. You and your team are fantastic.

          I think I remember you saying something about this in one of your podcasts, but do you think you will stop being at cross purposes with yourself as to the creative differences you’ve been under for the last 5 years?

          You juggle so many stories so it’s ridiculous to expect you to work on something you have issue with when the others seem to still be flowing but it’s seems like you have big plans for this series so I find it sad that book 3 while mostly written will never be seen to let us further adore and worship you ( tho you do write for yourself not the masses) because of book 2 being difficult 🙂

          Looking forward to whatever it is you next post no matter what it is because everything is excellent. – Aio

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