"I think people who create and write, it actually does flow - just flows from into their head, into their hand, and they write it down. It's simple." --Paul McCartney
I tried an experiment this weekend. I have two very different stories I've been working on; both have been in the plotting stages for quite some time. I don't want to work on the sequel to Skyborne until I actually sell that one, so that left me trying to figure out which story to work on next.
One, whose title abbreviates to OOTA, is this weird sort of urban science fantasy that starts with what seems to be an alien invasion but turns out to be a great deal more. The other, which has no suitable title but gets abbreviated as GB, can best be described as 'godpunk', a word I'm not sure even exists.
So I decided the best way to figure out what to write next was to write the first chapter of each book. This took some time to start. Starting a new book is intimidating enough on its own. Trying to start two of them at once? Yeah. Much worse. And I'm not quite sure yet how to define the results.
Starting OOTA was difficult and shaky, as I had to describe a city I haven't been to since 2001, and had to deal with a character who's been through several incarnations, this one different in some significant ways. And of course, I didn't realize until today that the reason it was so difficult was that I'd failed to put on the music I'd already determined would be this book's main CD. (Yes, I have music specifically for different books. The entirety of Skyborne's final section was written to U2's "The Joshua Tree" double CD set.) Editing it to that CD helped smooth out some of the rough patches, and I think I'm close to finding the right voice.
Starting GB, though. . . . It's been a long time since I wrote and felt like a story was fighting its way out of my head and onto the page. Things I hadn't defined in the plot just happened as I wrote, and it all made perfect sense. I spent the entire writing session feeling like I was trying to keep up with the story, and by the time I was done, I was sweaty and exhausted. (Though I blame the sweat on the fact that I live in a desert and it's 80 degrees at night nowadays.) I haven't edited it yet partly because I don't want to see if I was wrong about it, and partly because I'm not sure if I want to see if I was right.
The thing is, I'm hesitant to get started on GB because it's plotted as the first part of a trilogy, while OOTA is stand-alone but intended to be part of a much longer series. If I wrote the first part of GB, I know I'd want to write the rest. And as a good friend of mine once told me, you know you want to write the story that makes it seem like the Muse has you by the short and curlies. (This hits closer to home than I care to explain.) I know that's how it is with GB. But at the same time, damn, now that I've started on OOTA, I really want to work on it as well.
I'm sure I'll figure this out eventually, just had to get this out because I'm not the only one who's had this issue, and I can always use the advice.
I'd flip a coin, but I have this unfortunate tendency to catch flipped coins on their edge.