I’ve decided to keep a little online writing diary to keep myself accountable for my writing. Nothing like a little bit of public pressure to kick myself into high gear… I’ve also got a few major writing goals for this year and a few publishers asking me for stories and I thought it would be fun to share what is in the cue. This is my first entry, and I’m typing it on my iPhone in bed right before I go to sleep–for the second time, so expect entries to change over time.
Project: 30,000 word pulp novella due to Pro Se Publishing by April 15, 2014. (This was a fluke project that comes under the heading of: mention an idea to Tommy Hancock, the editor in chief/head honcho of Pro Se, at a con in late November and get the “I want it. Give it to me by April 15th.”)
The project started as a short story called “The Witch Hunter,” which is about to be published in John Hartness’s Big Bad 2 anthology by Dark Oak Press. More on that later. (Yes, it’s the one I performed at DragonCon.) I always knew it would turn into a series about Michael, a witch hunter, but I didn’t know how it would all work out.
Status: 1, 300 words complete as of yesterday. I’m a pantser, which is good and bad. The good: I get to dive right in and just start writing. The bad: sometimes I have to stop a bit and do some brainstorming. Basically, I need my “Ah ha! Moment” where I figure out the main conflict of the story and can start writing with reckless abandon…
(I, um, don’t have my “Ah Ha! Moment” yet. Today was about finding it.)
Goal: After skimming pulp novellas (I’ve never written pulp, but I’m told my writing naturally leans toward it. Won’t this just be an adventure?), I have decided I’m looking at 13 to 14 chapters of about 2,300 words each. Using a 3 act format, I know that the introduction to my story is 3 chapters. The inciting incident will take place around chapter four.
I need this information for pacing purposes. I’ve never written a novella and I don’t know how it is paced. I’ve got a deadline, so I don’t want to fool around with timing. I have thee short chapters of non-stop action to introduce my character and prove to the audience that he is going to save the world in 6,900 words. And all I have is a character with a backstory, the main villain for the series, and a setting: New Orleans.
More stupid math: my rough drafts are rough. Really rough. Basically, my writing will expand by 1/3 between the first and final drafts. (I write over my maximum word count on the second draft and then I tighten and cut in the 3rd. This means I have to write 1,500 words per chapter in my first draft if I want a final draft of 30,000 total. (I worked all this out yesterday.)
Again, this little diary is just something I’m trying to post to let everyone know what I’m doing. I don’t want to give too much away, but I also want to keep everyone excited about projects coming up, so I will give a few hints throughout the time I do this.
Premise: A long long time ago, in a year that I still don’t have a clue about (I’m thinking the dark ages), a group of powerful witches decided they would cast a spell that would give them complete immortality. I still don’t know the number of witches, which is a problem because the number of witches determines the number of stories I have to write. I’m working with either 7, 10, or 13. (Obviously such a spell would be dark and evil and would require unspeakable acts.) These witches are the ones responsible for all the fairy tales we have from around the world. They have survived the ages and are still at work in the modern age. The only way they can be killed is if one of those who has immortality disavows all magic and kills them. (Technically this is a good thing since this small group has commuted horrific capital crimes for ages.)
Part of the goal with the series is to focus on the fairy tale witches and to steer clear of anything remotely modern or real-life. I’d rather create a fake world of good verses evil so as not to offend anyone. My main villainous is the queen from Snow White, so I figure I’m safe there. (I’m still toying with linking her to Lady Bathory.)
Enter my character: Michael Lodestone.
His name: Michael, after Michael the arch-angel (because sometimes you just have to name a character quickly when you promise John Harntness you will give home a complete short story in a week). Lodestone: a last name he chose because Lodestone has anti-magical properties. Along with iron. I will work out the chemistry later.
The pulp series: Mr. Lodestone gets to hunt these 6, 9, or 12 witches… (This is what pantsing looks like. I’m a full chapter in, and I don’t even know how many people he’s fighting.)
Now that you are up to speed, here’s what I did today:
Goal: 1,500 words written.
Reality: got caught up with necessary brainstorming.
I needed to know what the bad guys would be doing, and Grimm’s fairy tales and other tales make the villains quite flat. Like, seriously, why does the witch from Hansel and Gretel eat children? Who eats children?!?! (Looks like there was a famine in Germany a while back, btw, which gives a bit more explanation.) I needed to figure out the motivations of my bad guys, so I decided to make a list of real, modern day villains. No I will not divulge my list.
Bingo! I don’t have my “Ah Ha!Moment” yet, but I have the basic premise of at least 7 novellas entered into a nice Excel Spreadsheet.
And I know the first bad guy Mr. Lodestone is hunting.
Note: tonight’s goal was cut short because I fell asleep on the couch while brainstorming… (Never brainstorm in a horizontal position after 9:00pm.) That’s why I’m posting this after 3:00am.
Tomorrow’s goal: tomorrow is a work day, so if I get 3 hours of “office time” in I will be lucky. I’m going to hope to write 1,500 words and be done with the rough chapter 2. I also need to figure out who Michael’s friends are. I know there is a girl and probably a guy. One of them is a computer hacker. One of them can fight. One of them might have only one leg… (I don’t know we’re that came up, but I can’t shake it.)
I might even have my “ah ha moment”!