Thursday, September 25, 2014


The theme for this week is "What the fuck am I going to write next?"

Each day this week, I've been writing out a quick five hundred word summary about a different potential book: one-sentence pitch, basic plot, setting, themes/conflicts, that kind of thing. And then I just do a brain-dump on the topic for the rest of the duration. Interesting set pieces. Things I might have to or could deal with during the course of the book. Considerations I'll need to ponder before I start writing. And so on. But the idea is to have a one-page treatment of the book when I'm done. One different treatment per day, until I have four or five possible books to write.

Once I get enough, I'll read them over in the cold light of some objective morning and decide which one to do next. Maybe I'll just throw a dart at the pile or print them all out and throw them down a flight of stairs, see which one goes the farthest. Feed them to a dog and see which one passes through his digestive track in the most complete state.

It's actually pretty fun: you get to pretend you're writing novels without actually have to do any of the real work. Until you realize that, yes, you're really going to have to do the work once you've made up your mind. Crap.

I've got three so far and plan on doing another one or two before I make the call. The first one's a pulpy diesel-punk take on the Sacco and Vanzetti trial, another's a light comedy about people who have to deal with living in a world full of superheroes. The last one proposes blowing my clone stories up into a book.

I'm thinking my next write-up tomorrow morning will be my Upper Peninsula paranormal investigation detective series (based on the Argyle story for anyone who's paying attention). Who knows what number five will be, or if the fifth will even be necessary. Maybe something completely new, maybe blow up that weird Lovecraftian/Dark Tower-ish cowboy thing I wrote last year.

Each one would be challenging to write for different reasons.

The diesel-punk story is fast-moving, action-filled and has all the plot points necessary to be a tight and fast write...but it's in a very strong voice (think Lori Petty from Tank Girl). As I recall from the test story, after about five thousand words, I started to speak like the main character all the time, if I didn't stop myself.

There's also a great deal of crunch: social commentary, class stratification, weird technology and alt-history, resistance movements and playing with expectations, a rather unreliable narrator. Lots of things to dig into.

The superhero story will be hard to write because a) I have to keep up the comedy for an entire book and b) multiple POV hell. It's going to be a twisty little bastard to write, almost Dirk Gently-ish, but should be fun.

The third is a full novel based on my clone stories. The stories pretty much write themselves and I think the book will be no different. The main issue here is that the setting material is so damn dense and hard to keep track of: it's like an entire world made of tongue twisters. There's a logic which lies beneath all the jokey Office Space-gone-wrong stuff and it's a little tricky keeping it all straight in your head.

Finally the UP book: it's a mystery/detective novel, much like the story it's based on, and each character has a very distinct voice. The fictional world it's set in is slightly different than the real world, so that's an additional angle to keep track of--situating all the made-up stuff amongst all the real parts of the UP. That's actually part of the fun--the true things are always harder to believe than the things I make up.

On top of that, I have to treat the area with respect because, well, I do have to visit there every once in awhile and I'd rather not have anyone key my car while up north. But it was a fun story and I have no doubt that the book would be a blast to write, too.

So there's that. Brainstorming on WHAT to write this week. Then I make my choice next week and start making sausage again. Keeping up the 500 word per day thing is going to be key in getting this next bad boy out in a reasonable time frame. I'm hoping I'll be writing it fast enough that it doesn't go off the rails like the last book almost did.

Have I mentioned before that novel-writing is hard? It's hard.

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