Story Empire is the group blog I belong to. Today, I’m holding down the fort over there and discussing those times when an author isn’t drafting new material. This post is intended to be a companion piece to that post. I’d appreciate it if you guys would also check out the Story Empire post, because it goes over other things than where I’m taking this one.
I have a bit of soul searching about what I might tackle next. I have no intention of starting a new draft before December, November at the earliest. It takes time to whip the storyboard into shape, and I want to be as productive as possible when I finally open a new project.
One of my mantras is: “Write the story you want to read next.” It’s served me well over the years, and keeps the task fun. The downside is that my mind moves around a lot. I write science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal stories. I like to switch things up.
The beauty of a group blog, like Story Empire, is that I get to hang out with people who are smarter than I am. Some of them have pointed out that I don’t have a series. I’ve covered a lot of bases; short story collections, novella, novels… no series. Some of my characters have returned via the short story, like Lisa Burton, or Pete from Will O’ the Wisp.
Still, they’re right… no actual series. I can’t see myself being focused long enough to write a long series, but still; throw JK Rowling kind of money my way and I’m your huckleberry. I might take a stab at a trilogy, but that would likely be my limit. Part of the problem is keeping the setting, characters, and plot entertaining.
I’m going to write this next part out as much for myself as you guys, but it opens the topics up for debate. I’d kind of like to hear what you have to say. Here are the things in my pipeline.
The one I may never write: This is an African adventure set in the colonial era. It will involve black magic, at least three kinds of opposition, and a bit of romance. (A new test for me.) It will also involve the safari. Because people have unrealistic views about hunting today, I may never write it. I don’t want to deal with knee jerk reactions to the hunting of fictional animals. I have some wonderful settings, scenes, and deceptions for this one, but I may have to add it to the scrap pile.
Score this one as more down side than up.
Grinders: This is a cyberpunk tale involving those who perform enhancement surgeries on themselves and each other. This stuff goes on today, and I can push it to an extreme in a science fiction environment. Imagine lots of neon, holographic advertising, and way too many people. I can dabble with where the internet world may take us one day. This might include cyber shut-ins who never leave their apartment. Drone deliveries, vitamin D deficiencies, and more.
Score this one as a plus in the story department, but not maybe career enhancing for me at this point.
The Group Project: I’ve had a lot of requests for a return of both Clovis from The Playground, and Lizzie St. Laurent and The Hat. It occurred to me they could exist in the same universe. They need other characters to interact with, and there are quite a few of my existing characters who could play a role here. This evolved, in my mind and on a storyboard, into something like an Avengers story only with a paranormal background.
Score this one in the middle somewhere, because I’ve never seen anyone do something like it before. The benefit to my career could be to interest readers in my backlist. Maybe a fan of The Hat picks it up, because it will be a sequel to The Hat. As they read it, they decide Lisa Burton is more interesting than they thought and want to pick up her novel. Or it could irritate readers, because Lizzie and the hat have to share the stage with other characters.
Another Lanternfish story: I just finished the draft of Lanternfish yesterday, but this world is ripe for another story. There is a war going on, and involvement of the pirates in the war could prove interesting. Yes, it’s a fantasy, but real things happened along this line and adds some credibility to them getting involved.
Score this one a bit of plus and a bit of minus. I feel this way, because nobody has read Voyage of the Lanternfish yet. If it flops, I don’t want to put six or seven months into a sequel. If it succeeds, the time for a sequel is upon me. It would head me down that path toward a trilogy. Lanternfish is the first one I’ve written that I feel could support a trilogy. (Sequels yes, but an actual trilogy is what I’m talking about.)
Those are the main possibilities, but they have to be looked at with a longer vision too. It is possible to write another Novella about Lizzie and the hat. This might be done a bit faster and satisfy their fans. Then I could focus on one of the other stories. I have an additional idea that could become a story pretty easily.
I could look at a third Experimental Notebook. That lets my mind bounce from tale to tale, which I enjoy. Then I could knuckle down and focus on some kind of sequel.
I also have a loose idea for a novella called Serang. She is a character from Lanternfish, and this would be her prequel story. The merit here is to satisfy any Lanternfish fans I might get while then writing one of the other novels.
Are fans willing to wait on sequels these days? I know all about George RR Martin, but I don’t quite have his kind of fan base. Would readers be satisfied with a trilogy that takes three years to deliver? These days, authors are pressed to publish more rapidly than ever before. If readers would stick around that long, I could squeeze some other stories between these and keep myself happy at the same time.
Keep in mind that I’m good for about two publications per year. With Lanternfish finished, I might put out three in 2019… maybe.
These are the things I have to sort out between now and late November. Before that, actually, if I’m going to spend some quality time on that storyboard.
What do you folks think? I know there is no correct answer here, and that I ultimately have to decide. I’m open to a bit of debate, and it may help me figure something out.