In my writing plans for 2012 post, I wrote the following:
I’ll focus on short stories, novelettes, and novellas for the remainder of the year.
Depending on who you ask, I’ve already blown that. This morning, I finished the first draft of a story that clocked in at 59,379 words. At that length, most would view it as a short novel. The word count will change during my editing rounds, but not enough to make a difference.
In the same post, I also said:
When I know if/when a story will be published, I’ll post about it on my blog.
And here we are. I don’t know when the story will be released, but I’m planning to release it.
Earlier this week, I added an FAQ to the site. One of the questions and answers is:
What are you working on now? The first book in a new contemporary fantasy series.
I wish I could narrow the genre down further, but the story doesn’t fit nicely into any of the fantasy sub-genres (except the broad “contemporary.”) It’s set in our time and world, hence contemporary fantasy. Maybe it’s urban fantasy, but based on the definitions I’ve read, I don’t think so. It has a lesbian main character, but I don’t consider it lesbian fiction. More on that later.
Writing this story didn’t follow my usual creative process; in fact, I almost didn’t write the story at all. When I’m ready to start something new, I open my running ideas file, read the list, and see what jumps out at me. In January 2011, this story begged to be written. But there was a problem. To start a story, I usually need a good idea of the beginning, a vague idea of the end, and a couple of key plot points in between (which is also a question/answer in the FAQ!). I didn’t have the key plot points, but I decided to try, anyway.
It didn’t work. I flailed around. The story was there, just beyond my grasp, but I couldn’t see it. I was trying to catch air. So I abandoned it and went back to my ideas file. A time travel idea jumped out at me, and Threaded Through Time was the result.
Fast forward to January 2012, when it was time for me to choose a new project. I don’t usually go back to projects I’ve abandoned. There are already enough ideas in my file to last me the rest of my life, and I’m constantly adding more. If an idea hasn’t worked out, so what? I have tons more to choose from. But this story had continued to nag at me—whatever the story was supposed to be!
So I thought, “Okay, let’s go back to basics.” Instead of fretting over what I didn’t have, I decided to finish the scene I’d literally left hanging in 2011, and then to ask myself, “What happens next?” Forget about trying to see ahead; just take it one scene at a time.
So I did. And I kept doing that. And eventually the answer to, “What happens next?” gave me the key I’d been missing. It turned out to be a character, not a plot point. Suddenly she was there, and it was a watershed moment. The lightning bolt had struck. It was smooth sailing after that.
Have a good weekend!