Any excuse for a bit of nostalgia,
You might be surprised to find that I don’t write one book at a time. In fact, I keep several stories on the go. Some of them are very well advanced, others are little more than basic ideas. I also have a list of projects that I think might develop. It helps me to switch around when the thoughts for one are slow in coming, moving away often gives me a fresh burst after I have left a story for a while. And as I said recently, I believe that the story won’t come out until it’s ready to be told, which can be frustrating. As an independently published author, I’m fortunate in some ways. I don’t have an editor breathing down my neck, or a deadline looming. And my method keeps me away from the dreaded writer’s block, at least so far.
I’ve noticed that I always seem to come to a grinding halt at around the 60,000-word mark, in just about every story that I’ve written. I guess that it’s like the ‘wall’ that runners talk about, without the physical discomfort, fortunately! I have to leave it for a few weeks and come back to it, which is where the other projects come in.
I have to leave it for a few weeks and come back to it, which is where the other projects come in, I can keep writing on one of them.
The voices in my head that dictate to me, (other writers will know what I mean here) decide what they want to tell me, in what order, and when one lot gets fed up with telling their tale, then there are others ready to have a go. At least, that’s how I explain it.
Initially, I intended to spend some time focusing on short stories, I have several that need a little work to get them finished, with the imminent publication of my second collection, I wanted to have some spares in case my editor and beta readers thought that any of the ones I had selected were not good enough.
But, as usual, things have not quite worked out quite as I planned. I had a big idea for Survive, and just had to get it down, now I have spent most of the month on that, and written over 30,000 words. Not a single one has been added to any of my short stories.
In consequence, I’m right back where I started from, I still have six, half completed short stories, and now I have another novel that’s 30,000 words further on but I’m still stuck. Although my idea for Survive was a good one, I still haven’t got to the point where the story is finished.
And it’s not just about the word count; I’m not too bothered about that. I would like my stories to come in at around the 75-80,000 word total, but if they don’t, it’s not the end of the world. And that’s purely because a lot of the books that I read while I was at sea or in my formative years were around that size and they seemed a good length to tell a story well.
I don’t think that I’m ever (?) going to write Tolkien or Martin-Esque 200,000 word epics. One of my favourite books, Fahrenheit 451 was only 47,000 words or so, proving that you don’t need quantity to tell a good story. And often, the extra wordage consists of extraneous description or what could be called “padding.”
I guess that what this has all been telling me is that you have to write what’s there in your head. That might not be what you had wanted to write, or even what you thought you needed to do. It turned out to be the novel, so I did that.
As a bonus, the passages I’ve added to Survive have given me a few ideas for another project that I can put on my list.
And from another source entirely, I have a prequel to Ribbonworld, I already thought of a third story in the Balcom series, have written about 3,000 words and have even given it a title, The Lost Princess. In working out what I could do with it, I wondered if I couldn’t also do a ‘zeroth’ story in the series (Fans of Asimov will get the reference), and go back to the events that are referenced in Ribbonworld, the real start of the story if you like.
And that’s all on top of everything else that’s going on, I’ve re-organised this website, there were a lot of things that needed changing and I’d put them off. My first short story collection is now available FREE, just click here to get your copy.
As ever, your comments would be appreciated. Let me know what you think below.