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So what the heck am I working on?

June 26, 2014

If you read my last post, it might have left you wondering just what kinds of genre-crossing stories I’m working on. Here’s a short list of projects I’m working on, and some story ideas that I’ve roughly sketched out that I consider candidates for major projects. Specific details are withheld to help you resist the temptation to pilfer the brilliant products of my mind.

Ok, in all seriousness, this list is also to help me keep straight what I’m working on. Putting it up here helps makes some of these projects a bit more “real”. You know, real as in things that I actually need to devote time to in addition to stuff like the day job, or laundry, or that home budget my wife and I keep saying we’ll write up eventually.

 Project: Wasteland, my post-apocalyptic western novel that I’ve blogged about here before. Life and other excuses keep forcing me to take long breaks from this one, which makes it hard to get back into the flow again, no matter how much Nine Inch Nails I listen to. And it only gets harder because every time I think about it, I keep wanting to revise major portions of it, even though it’s less than half written. Recently I came up with a new ending, which I think is a good thing because it does a better job of justifying the story before, rather than forcing more changes. I think. At least I have a complete outline for this book. Outlining a whole novel was new experience for me when I started this one.

Project: Quentin, a modern-day urban fantasy novel that’s turning out to be more of a romance the more I write of it, and I don’t read “romance” novels as rule. One of my protagonists comes from a family of warlock’s that’s kind of like my own version of the Whatleys. I actually began writing a short story from this character’s point of view before I began the actual novel. I would like to finish that short story, but it’s sort of hit a rut, so I moved on to working on the novel. So far I have part of a first chapter, with two different limited third-person perspectives in it, and what I think is half of an outline. It’s working title is Quentin because that’s the name of my reluctant warlock protagonist. When I dreamed up the character, I honestly had no idea that the main character of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians was also named Quentin. (Note to self: still need to read The Magicians) I may have to change the name later, but he’ll remain Quentin until I have a finished draft.

My current challenge with this project is understanding just how I want the magic to work in this book. I’m not generally a fan of magic “systems” in books. I think it’s a carryover from RPG’s, and that systematizing the mystical often sucks the magicalness out of it. But if my protagonists are going to solve problems using magic, or have to solve problems caused by magic in a logical way, then it still needs some ground rules. I think I know the problems that I want magic to cause in this story, so I have a start. Maybe I need to give The Key of Solomon another look over.

And here’s some of the quarter-baked ideas I’ve been scribbling down bits of in my writing journals. At least, the ones I’m taking the most seriously at present.

A set of military sci-fi stories set in a posthuman future that I’m starting to think of more as mysteries. The original idea was inspired by The Black Company series, but it’s evolved some since I first daydreamed it. My protagonist is a man from the near future who, due to an accident, ends up cryogenically frozen and thawed out in the not-so-near future of post-space age colonization.

No, no! Not that guy!

No, no! Not that guy! Mine’s different. Really!

I just have  some first-person fragments scribbled down for these so far. Whether it turns into a novel or I handle it as a series of short fiction, I think I will need an outline either way.

cyberpunk-weird western hybrid that does in fact involve an undead gun-slinging cowboy. Just a sketch of an idea so far. This story needs a compelling central mystery that brings its main characters together. When I’ve figured that out, I’ll be ready to do some serious work on it.

And, a science fantasy adventure story that draws its inspiration from old-style sword and sorcery pulp adventures. I’m thinking of this one as the start of a series of short novels or novellas. I’ve got the main characters sketched out. I’ve been outlining the first story in my head for what seems like years. The soundtrack for this one is a mix of The Sword, Abney Park, Rainbow, and oddly enough, The Black Keys. This one’s a candidate for NaNoWriMo this November if I participate. (And it’s likely that I’ll be participating.)

I’m also working on revising and improving some of my short fiction. Revision is definitely something I need to develop a better system for, but I think I’m starting to finally develop it.

Lately I’ve been feeling like a lot of my stuff is still very amateurish in terms of style and structure. I’m looking forward to learning things at this weekend’s conference.

 

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