Finished up the Clone story. It took quite a bit longer than I thought it would. On the face of it, it's a dreadfully simple story. Pretty much goes from point A to point B with lots of action in between, barely any characterization, some fun set pieces and then the obligatory cliffhanger ending. Not much meat there, sadly.
But stories tend to have an innate length. When you conceive of one, you can't just take a thousand word story and turn it into ten thousand. It's also very hard to take a four thousand word story and make it a piece of flash fiction. At least that's my difficulty: once I start a story, it becomes the length that it becomes.
This was a six-er, or thereabouts. When I picked it back up, I was only one or two thousand words in, so that's a fair amount of verbiage to get through in a week, at least so long as you don't want to turn into a crazy mumbling hermit. I'd naively forgotten that a story determines its own length. All you can do is hang on for the ride.
The biggest problem I had with the thing was the verb tenses. You'd think I'd have a handle on such things by now, but I'd just spent over a year writing present tense. The Clone stories are in past tense because the narrator is telling a story to someone else, years after the fact. I constantly had to go back and clean out landmines, rewrite paragraphs and so on.
This is exactly one of the silly things that you have to deal with that you never see in the media. You'd never hear about, say, Faulkner, complaining about paragraph breaks or trying to figure out why the hell his typewriter keeps screwing up the margins.
In the media, writers are all about finding their internal inspiration, or having to sit on a beach somewhere, dipping cake in tea and letting their memories flood back. The popular media gets a lot wrong about the writing process, I'm discovering. Barely enough at all about beards either, I'm afraid.
Taking another week off from the writing. Heading up into the howling wilderness of the Upper Peninsula to, hopefully, see some fall colors, visit the parents, wander around a bit, decompress even more and so on and so forth. I should be back early next week and I'll most likely start writing the next book, then. Hopefully I'll even make up my mind which one I want to do by then.
Whichever I choose, I think it's going to go a lot quicker. I have a better grasp of what the traps are, what to look out for ahead of time in terms of outlining and plotting, and being extremely vigilant about plot cohesiveness and momentum.
One thing I know, for example, is to shoot low on the word count because I'm completely and utterly incapable of keeping to a word limit. I aim for 80, I hit 120 instead. So, I'm aiming for 60, on the general theory I'll overshoot to around 80. Let's see how that goes.
Totals: 760, 1010, 637, 593, 1227, 960, and 531.