I Think I Detect a Trend

POPULAR NEW RELEASES
Finale (Hush, Hush, #4)
The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, #3)
Reflected in You (Crossfire, #2)
Hidden (House of Night, #10)
Breathe (Breathe, #1)
Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles, #4)
Iced: A Dani O’Malley Novel (Fever, #6)
The Twelve (The Passage, #2)
The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #1)
Crewel (Crewel World, #1)
Son (The Giver, #4)

I copied the above list from a Goodreads.com news letter. (Yes, I’m on Goodreads. No, I don’t do much with it. It’s social media–I don’t particularly care for it. Plus, trying to come up with a more or less complete list of books I’ve read is fucking difficult because I read A LOT.)

I’m not familiar with any of these books or their authors. I don’t intend to pass judgement on the quality of the writing or any of that. I’m just faintly disturbed by the fact that all the books on this list are part of series. I have nothing against sequels and prequels and trilogies and epic fantasy sagas. I’ve read my share. What I don’t like is the idea that to be a novelist (who isn’t Neil Gaiman, Stephen King or someone like that), the easiest way to land a publishing contract is to hook both publishers and readers with a lengthy series of tales. It seems somehow dishonest. The writer of such a creature doesn’t have to stretch too far for the second, third, fourth book if he’s writing in the same fucking world. Do we know anything, really, about what kind of writer that writer really is? Try something different. Try something risky.

Of course, I don’t plan to be a published novelist. As I’ve gotten older, I find I have less patience for the minute and sometimes needless details that need to be included to make a story novel-sized. I like my stories like I like my poetry. Short, compact, economical. I’m experimenting at the moment with a fantasy story (may or may not end up in multiple books). I want it to be long enough to be considered a novel but written with the economy of a novella or short story. I’m over 20,000 words now. I don’t know how well I’ve succeeded so far. I managed to make the hero’s stay at a brothel significant, but there is a diversion that does nothing to further the plot, except that it reveals something about the hero’s character. Who knows, maybe I will bring it back around somehow. But anyway. It’s the pacing that matters. I can pace the fuck out of shorter works. Long works, not so much. It’s a test. I’ve studied hard for it. I might fail anyway, but at that point, I will gleefully chop the fuck out of what I’ve written and make something shorter of it.

The idea of a trilogy of novels is also something of a test. I know now where the first book will end and what the second book will consist of, which in turn gives me a good idea of what the third would be. But a lot has to happen between where the story is now and that imagined end in order for it to be long enough to be a novel.

At the moment, though, I’m concentrating on a trilogy of almost novellas that I’ve been working on for years. The damn thing has gone through so many changes that what I’ve got now bears little resemblance to the very first time I started slapping these characters around way back in 2005. But that’s good because that first story was pretty atrocious.

In other writing news, I discovered, much to my chagrin, that I may need to start doing some kind of outlining before I start writing. I had started a short story a few weeks ago with only a vague idea of what it was. It had three or four threads that ended up weaving together into one major thread, which was as intended. The problem was that I had very little idea of what any of those threads actually were. I still don’t know. I like the overall idea and the characters enough to possibly go back to it at some point, but I have a feeling that, for various reasons, it won’t happen any time soon. Because I hate outlines of any breed. Way back when work wasn’t killing my soul on a daily basis and I wrote regularly, it wasn’t an issue. Working on something regularly let me keep that kind of shit in my head. With the sporadic way I’ve approached writing in the last year and a half, I’m finding there’s a lot less story cohering in my head, and I don’t always get the opportunity to write when it does. On top of that, I’m finally beginning to realize that I’m not exactly young any more, and the inability to write entire stories just in my head could be a result of an aging brain. That’s a lot less of a factor than the stress but still entirely possible. Either way, writing more than I do now is probably the best solution. In the meantime, outlines, guidelines, road maps. That’s all something of an experiment for me, too.

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One thought on “I Think I Detect a Trend

  1. Outlining was something I also used to refused to do for awhile. I can barely keep track of what I need to do within a given day, so I’m going to have to do some serious outlining & list-keeping if I want to get my dissertation fit for submission.

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