(TL;DR version: Over the course of November, I will attempt to write and publish nine short stories, free to read online or as an ebook in early December. Want to learn more? Read on…)
The problem is never finding new story ideas. The problem is being able to ignore them long enough to write the story that’s in front of you now. Or at least that’s how it goes for me. I lose momentum on the work in progress when I get distracted by the bright and shiny object of a potential new story.
So I made a deal with myself as I was drafting The Pike (my new cyberpunk/dystopian science fiction thriller novel) these past couple of months. Every “new” idea that popped into my head was tossed into a text file on my desktop with the promise that I’d tackle them when the first draft of The Pike was complete. Tackle how? By doing a rapid-fire writing and publishing sprint with as many ideas as seemed viable in the month that followed. And do it all within the limited 2-3 hours of writing time available to me each day.
Madness? Perhaps. Glutton for punishment? Not if you enjoy writing! Besides, I’ve never done NaNoWriMo, so this seemed like an interesting twist. And I certainly didn’t want to fall into that post-drafting rut that makes the words dry up for a week or two after a first draft is complete.
Anyway, when I finally staggered across the finish line after the first pass through The Pike, I immediately dove into the Text File of Deferred Ideas. I knew it would be bad, a bloodbath even. And it was. Fully half the snippets, characters, worlds, and plots I had dumped in there held no interest for me anymore. The fire had faded. Others seemed interesting, but didn’t get me as excited as I knew I would need to be to deliver a bunch of stories quickly.
I buckled down with the remaining ideas, knowing that I would have just a little over a week to decide which stories I would be taking on. And all the while, I tried to ignore the fact that my normal short story writing process takes 1-2 weeks to advance from idea to the first draft being in the bag. Oh, and did I mention that I’ve decided that the novem root of November means that I'll be challenging myself to finish nine stories in the month?
Nine readable stories.
That means I'll need to do editorial passes and polish drafts instead of the raw word count that is de rigueur when it comes to NaNoWriMo. The stories will not be wart-free, but they’ll be as good as I can make them in a month. The end game here is to go back and rework the stories with a little distance and the help of anybody who dares to read them at this early stage of development. More refined versions of these stories will then be made available for sale in both print and ebook format in the early months of 2016.
But what if you’re brave, or curious enough, to want to see the sausage being made? Well then, pull up a chair, dear reader, November is going to be interesting.
I’ve already expanded the ideas that survived the initial purge, mashed a few together, then added structure to create story skeletons for my nine tales. I have a week’s worth of pre-planning ahead, but after that blessed extra hour of sleep on Saturday night, I’m going to disengage the emergency brake and go for broke on November 1st.
How can you follow along? You’ve got two choices, both free. If you want to watch it happen live, I’ll be publishing the stories on Wattpad, though you’ll have to register to read them (note: registration is free!). You can read the stories on the Wattpad website or on any of your phone/tablet devices using the free Wattpad app.
If you’d rather receive an early holiday gift, I’ll be distributing a free ebook containing all nine stories to my newsletter subscribers in early December. (Not a newsletter subscriber? Sign up now!)
This has the potential get ugly. If I get even a minor cold, I’ll probably crash and burn. Maybe the pre-planned stories will refuse to cooperate when I try to write them, forcing me to come up with entirely new tales on the fly. Maybe one or two of them will even try to explode into full-blown novels.
Should be fun to watch…