Monday, November 11, 2013

What I've Been Working On

For those who don't know, November is National Novel Writing Month. I've never participated before, but since I happened to have the week off to start November and was getting ready to bang out something anyway, I decided to jump in feet first and give it a shot.

The basic idea behind it is to get 50,000 words by the end of the month. Doesn't matter how you do it, just do it. I think this is a great exercise even when it's not National Novel Writing Month. No matter how hard you try, I'm fairly certain that for the bulk of us wanna-be writers, the first draft is going to be terrible. So there's no sense in lingering on each and every word, because either way, it will probably stink. Sorry, but it will. Bang it out, then go back to it later.

I'm far from a veteran, but what I've noticed is that there is only so much you can outline and plan before writing. I think it's good to have some major concepts, clever ideas, characters, etc. queued up and ready--certainly do what you can beforehand, but it seems to have its limits. At least, my imagination is only capable of doing so much. But when you actually get into writing, ideas will appear, characters can materialize, and plot points can tie together. Or they can fail spectacularly. Either way, the work has to be done, and banging out whether it be November or February seems to work best.

So here is what I have been up to, writing-wise. I finished a couple of drafts on a little vampire hunting novel titled Adventures of Braxton Revere and recently received back some edits from a very fine young editor. I'm looking forward to digging into those, though it will be hard work to bring this idea up to snuff.

I also received word that a short story I wrote, titled Jim, will be published in the winter edition of a new literary journal titled Midnight Circus. I'm excited about this for many reasons, obviously. Foremost of which, I'm excited because it is my attempt to pay tribute to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, my favorite novel. The story is a second person narrative following Jim on his escape from slavery. I recently reread the book, as I am wont to do, and I was really struck by the idea that Jim's daughter, who is deaf and can't read because it is forbidden by slaves, has to somehow be told that her father is gone. Heartbreaking. I'm excited to share it with the world.

Lastly, the project I'm tackling for November is a sequel to On the Backs of Dragons. I had a lot of ideas for a sequel, but was having trouble weaving them together. But the combination finally spun in place and I've been having a blast revisiting that world. It's been fun visiting a world I've already created rather than building from scratch this time around. And I hope people who enjoyed the first one will be excited to see what Caroline, Mouse, Jonas, Akari, Chupwah, Eston, Maldazor, Cyril, Jomey, Matthias, Fritz, Tod, Drake, Grayson, and many others have been up to. A lot of it has been quite a surprise to me! So far, the part I have enjoyed the most was revisiting a couple of very minor characters that appeared only briefly--if you've ever wondered what happens to the nameless Storm Troopers or SPECTRE henchman after their failure, you might enjoy it, too.

One other thing: make sure you check out my short story Ellen and Helen below. I didn't get much feedback on it, so it's either terrible or people didn't read it--or both! Regardless, I had fun doing it.