Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Plague of Ideas

Funny thing is, that would make a better title for a book than a blog entry.  But I'm using it here, because the last thing I need right now is yet another story idea.

Fortunately, this entry will not consist of only a very long scream.  However, it won't be about my love of a new Abraxas plot either.  After a brief discussion with Rena, who made a very good point about why working another Abraxas book might not be the best idea, I put that plot aside and have been working on other things.  Quite a few other things.

There's this concept among authors, and I've seen it best identified is the 'shiny new idea'.  It's the idea that seems so utterly amazing when you first have it that you have to work on it NOW NOW NOW or the world will surely end.  It's the utter certainty that this will be your next book and it will be amazing.  What I've been working on felt like that, and yet as I worked, it seemed to be holding up.

Then I started working on the story's antagonist, and found that person so much more interesting than either group of protagonists, so I figured I'd start plotting her story instead.  Go figure.

It's going well so far, but it's hardly the only thing.  In the eleven days since my last entry, I've come up with more new stuff than I usually deal with in several months.  There's this weird feeling of unfulfilled potential about all of it, and while some of it I know I'm not ready to write yet, other stories, well...  I might as well just give each one a number and roll a die to figure out what the next project would be.  If that wasn't, y'know, a really bad idea.

It would be far too easy to consider all of this a moot point.  I start editing The Accidental Warlock on Saturday, and that's going to consume most of my writing time and spare brain cycles until it's done.  At least, that's the theory.  I want to keep working on the other plots when I'm not editing, so I can figure out what book is next.  Maybe I'll even be able to write it before the year's over.  Three books in a year would be a new record for me.  Even if the first one wasn't worth reading.

As always, I'll have to just keep going and see what happens.  But the plot for this current book...  It's been odd.  All day yesterday and today, I've been working on it in bits and pieces, adding a few lines here, a few paragraphs there, making a few small changes.  It's a bit like putting a puzzle together, and I really want to know what it's going to look like when it's done.

Because I think this one's going to surprise me.  I just have to realize what the story's really supposed to be.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

While my Keyboard Gently Weeps

There's something amazing about starting work on a new plot.  There's this moment of wonderful possibility, when it seems like anything could happen but I'm dead certain this is going to be awesome.  This is the one, it's easy to say.  This is the book that's going to start my career, this is the one that'll have agents kicking down my door, this is the one I'll still be signing at conventions twenty years from now.

Then I actually start working on it, and one of two things happens.  Either I can see how it will all work, or I can see it starting to fall apart, and the desperate changes I try to make all fumble over one another, creating a bigger and louder mess, until it feels like I'm watching a plane crash in slow motion and can only hope to salvage something from the pieces.

It's not a perfect metaphor, but that's what it feels like for me.

This has happened to me a lot lately.  Since my last entry, I've been digging through older notes and scribbling down a ton of new notes, trying hard to find the stories buried somewhere in my head.  One plot has already gone through three different versions, and I'm no closer to finding something that feels like it will work.  Another one, a brand new story, came to me in a flash last week, just there in my head like it had always been.  I like what I have so far for that one, but I've hardly touched it since last week and I'm worried it'll crash and burn when I try to work on it again.  And there are still other plot files I tell myself I should look at but I don't even know if I want to.

Last night, I stepped away from the keyboard and gave things some serious thought.  I have about two and a half weeks before I start editing The Accidental Warlock, and I'd like to have a new story ready to start before then, so I can write two books this year like I've planned.  (Yes, I know, best-laid plans and all that.)  I realized that a lot of the trouble with the plots I was working on was that my heart wasn't in them.  Two plots are too closely based on failed stories for me to want to take a chance on them again, while others feel incomplete, like I've found the start and the end and have no idea what should make up the middle, or I have protagonists I could write book after book about but no antagonist and therefore no real story.  And I seem to keep coming up with "save the world" plots and I'm getting tired of it.

Somewhere in all this mess I realized: Abraxas, the world of both Skyborne and The Accidental Warlock, is the only world I've written anything worth reading in for the past few years, so why don't I just write another Abraxas story?  I literally stopped in my tracks at realizing this; I was pacing at the time.  And I started thinking.  Within a few moments, I had a basic idea.  Today, I scribbled down a plot and characters, and notes on the city where the story takes place.

It's entirely possible this might crash and burn just like all the others.  But I know I have to give it a try, just like all the others.  Time to pull out the day's notes and see how it goes.

Next entry: it might be about my love of this new plot.  It might be just a really long scream.