As the process of the revising my — hopefully — almost finished novel, The Darkening Dream, draws out the amount of work I have to personally do on it declines toward the limit of… well very little. More and more I’m just waiting on something to come back from someone else. When it does, I have a little flurry of activity and then it’s back to waiting. This is par for the course in the glacially paced publishing business, and I haven’t even seriously gotten into the game of waiting on agents and editors yet, which makes glacial look fast. Hell, publishers routinely (read almost always) sit on books for 12-18 months between signing and release. Of course, this is mostly because that’s how it was done prior to the computer and internet age, and must change very soon or they will find themselves in Chapter 11. One only has to look at something like this to realize that.
But in any case, the authorial solution to this process is to write another book in the meantime.
I’d had a really fantastic idea a couple months ago, as usual a hybrid between some new ideas and one of the forty-two thousand stories that have been bouncing around in my head for years. Often a great book comes out of the evil-mutant-mating of two or more half-formed book ideas. In this case the oldest of these is a time travel concept I conceived in the fall of 1994. Anyway, I’ve been doing some outlining work on it since the new year and finally began writing. Three chapters (5700 words) popped out in no time, as I’m very good at the process of converting a scene idea (as long as I know in my head roughly what’s supposed to happen) into the actual prose. I’d half-forgotten how fun first-drafting is. More fun for sure than line editing, and WAY more fun than outlining, and WAY WAY more fun than writing queries or synopses.
The tricky part when flipping back and forth between books is not getting the voice all confused. The Darkening Dream is in third-person past, and has six distinct character voices, while the new one is first-person present with very clipped immediate sentences. Good synaptic exercise for sure.
I have to agree with the idea of two ideas mating. Most of my stories, whether that’s been a short-story, a novel or screenplay, have been the amalgamation of two or three ideas. They eventually become refined into one working idea. I love it, though, since when they start working as one, suddenly multiple levels start working in the story on a more interesting scale.
I’m intrigued by The Darkening Dream, Andy, and I’m looking forward to its release.
I think this is because the singular ideas, while they might be really cool, don’t always have enough to hang an entire story on. But when combined with some other complementary idea, flesh things out. Like in this case my time-travel idea had to do with some really cool mechanics and scenarios, but didn’t have any characters to go with them. I finally had the idea this year for a couple good characters, and throwing them into a modified version of the scenarios of the first idea created a really interesting dynamic.
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