Skip to main content

Deciding on the Next Novel


Since I don't write licensed fiction (yet!), I often get asked how I pick my next novel project. I'm currently working on my 12th novel length work and I'm continually finishing one and then moving onto the next. I've been in a pretty constant pattern like this since my second book, which turned out to be Lost at the Con. 

I'm not sure how usual that is. It usually takes me less than a week or too, sometimes as little as a day, for me to choose my next novel project.

I know some writers take months between projects, gestating ideas, and I think that is a completely valid choice, but I need to keep momentum and be working every day or I feel listless. I need to be in the middle of writing  a novel to feel... comfortable? It's a bit like a security blanket for me.

For me to keep that pace, though, there are a lot of things I have to do.

First, I need to constantly be taking input. I read, on average, a book every week. I try to watch at least a few movies every week as well. I'm also constantly consuming news and history through podcasts and morning reports, etc. I can't generate any ideas if I'm not seeing everything else out there and taking in input. Reading and watching and listening to all of that material causes me to constantly think about story possibilities.

Second, I need to write and explore all of these ideas in my notebook every day. My time in my notebook is often spent coming up with battle plans for the day, reminiscing on the previous day's events, but, most importantly, I'm using that time to ask myself questions about all of that input. I ask myself questions about story structure, about story ideas, about things that capture my interest. And eventually, sooner or later, I'll hit upon an idea that I think would work as a novel. I'll write in my notebook every morning, then switch to my novel. Once I've hit upon an idea in my notebook, I'll work on outlining and work out small details for the next project.

By the time I finish my current work in progress, the hope is that I'll have enough material to dive right into the next book. Sometimes, as I'm working on the current novel, I'll plan out two or three novels and not be able to decide what is going to come next. Inevitably, the one that happens next is the one I feel like I have the most energy to tackle, but also the one that's going to challenge me the most.

I feel like if I'm not trying to challenge myself with each new project, I'm not learning anything. I think those who have been reading my books in beta form (or even finished form) can see an increase in my ability with every outing. And I'm still making leaps forward with every project.

So, that's how I pick my next project. It's not a glamorous endeavor, it's basically doing a lot of hard work all the time and never stopping. But it's the truth.

--

As for my writing recently, I had a chance to write a primer on Dr. Strange, so if you're interested in the film, here are some comics I wrote up for Salt Lake City Weekly.

A new episode of Fauxthentic History came out as well, the second part in our Naboo series.

--
As a reminder: You can join my short story Patreon here. 

The Aeronaut and Escape Vector are still out and still need your purchases and reviews. If nothing else, they can use you telling people about them. If you want signed copies, visit the shop here on this page.

As far as my work outside of all this: There's a lot of great stuff on Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith for you. 

And please, please, please don't forget to check out any of my books, drop reviews of them on Amazon or Goodreads, and follow me on twitter and Facebook!
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Anatomy of an Opening: The End of the Affair

Instead of breaking down a scene from a movie, this time we'll break down the opening of a book. (Previously, I've done scenes from City Lights, Citizen Kane, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  I've also broken down the opening to Starship Troopers.

Graham Greene's The End of the Affair is absolutely one of my favorite books. The writing is lyrical and story heart-wrenching and beautiful. Greene's style of writing is such that he always has me gripped, whether it's the beginning of the book or the end. And he shows you so much about the character in his opening lines.

So, here are the first two paragraphs from the book:
A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which, to look ahead. I say 'one chooses' with the inaccurate pride of a professional writer who - when he has been seriously noted at all - has been praised for his technical ability, but d…

50+ Rules and Tips About Writing I've Collected Over the Years

I have twenty or thirty notebooks and journals filled up with snippets about writing, my plans for stories, bits of dialogue, interesting ideas, plotlines, scraps of short stories, and a dozen other things. I carry one with me at all times and it takes me a couple of months to fill one up.

One of the things I've kept in one of my notebooks was a collection of writing tips and rules that I've collected over the years in my travels. From teachers, from books, from wherever. Most of my career has been spent screenwriting, so a lot of these are most applicable to that, but I wanted to present them so they might be of use to you as well.

I've never stopped collecting these over the years and I never will.

To start the list are Kurt Vonnegut's eight rules of writing. They are the first in my notebook and, I think, the most useful. I'll add a star to those I think are applicable most to screenwriting. Some of these aren't applicable to everyone in every situation, but…

World Building Without Bogging Down Your Novel

I was asked to talk today about how you build a world without bogging down your novel. And it's something you see all too much of, not just in the work of those working toward becoming professionals, but in professionally published manuscripts as well.

Part of the problem is that writers become so in love with their world that they hit you with as much of it as they can right from the beginning. There are dumps and dumps of exposition that are supposed to paint a vibrant world, but too many colors of paint hit the canvas and instead of a beautiful sunset and a happy little tree, you're looking at a big smudge of brown where too many colors mixed.

That's not to say you can't get away with some florid description. Sometimes, my favorite passages in books are descriptions of the world that leave my breath taken.

But you don't need all of it in your book.

The question you need to ask yourself is this: does it add to the story?

If you're creating a fantasy or a sci…