Saturday, March 1, 2008

Embarking Upon New Adventures

I turned in Book 2 a week and a half ago and haven't written fiction since. I've been catching up on life and doing some promo type stuff for IWBYJR. Although really it doesn't seem like I've been doing much except blogging and surfing the internet too much. My office is still a huge mess (I'll clean it tomorrow?) and I haven't organized anything for my taxes (Umm, next weekend?). I guess, I'm one of those people who just loses it without a sense of routine and structure, so it's time to get back to writing fiction and then everything else will fall into place.

Fortunately one of the writing yahoo loops I subscribe to is doing a 100X100. You write 100 words a day every day for 100 days. I generally aim for more than that, but it gives me a minimum for each day and I can tell I'm going to need to ease myself in. Trying to put the idea that has been percolating for so long on the blank page is intimidating. 100X100 started today and I started with 140 words on what will either be Book 3 or Book 4.

I think that is the other thing that has me scattered right now, I don't know which idea to follow. Book 2 came from an idea I put aside to write IWBYJR so I knew all along what I would be writing next and I'd actually written a version of it before, so I had a skeleton to follow. The two new ideas come from aborted short stories (I tried to be a short story writer first, but I always wrote these epic stories that were clearly compressed novels), however neither of them were very fleshed out. I have a general idea about both stories, but there is going to be a lot to discover, which is fun and scary at the same time. I look at IWBYJR and marvel at how it all came together and it's intimidating to think about trying to pull that off again.

Anyway so the plan right now is to try to write 3 chaps of each book and then decide which to pursue first (or in the ideal world my editor will want to buy Book 2 and give me a contract for another book (or two more books!!!) as well and she can help me decide). I have a chapter (or maybe it is two chapters) of one book, which we will call The Runaway Book for now as it doesn't have a working title. I wrote it back in fall right before IWBYJR revisions and my writing group absolutely loved it, which is a good sign.

Today I wrote 140 words on the other book, which does have a working title that I really love, but I don't want to jinx myself by calling it by that as I now know what a process it can be to agree upon a title for your book with your publisher. So the only clue I will give you is that it is an Alkaline Trio lyric. This book we will call The Revenge Book.

While The Runaway Book was completely consuming my thoughts in the fall, The Revenge Book has now taken center stage. But The Revenge Book intimidates me for several reasons. It will be told in first person by a boy and I am concerned about my abilities to realistically get inside a seventeen year old boy's head. I had a little bit of practice in Book 2, which had three chapters written from the perspective of male characters, but still, it's new ground. Also new, when I started writing today, it came out in present tense. I've never ever written in present tense. I wasn't even sure I liked reading present tense until I just kept reading book after book written that way and the books were all good, so I accepted it. My other books had a reason to be in past tense though. They were told from a distance. I think The Revenge Book is going to take place in a very intense two or three week period, so present tense probably makes sense, but I'm nervous about it. Lastly The Revenge Book needs research. It's going to be my first set entirely outside of Chicago/the Midwest book. It's in Los Angeles, where I have spent some time, but not enough and not for a couple years. Also The Revenge Book is my modern Persephone book, so I need to read up on my mythology.

The Runaway Book is going to be a bit of an experiment as well. I was anguishing just yesterday that it doesn't really have a main character and wondering if this is a problem. It will be told in third person from three different perspectives and since those three people will be telling stories, large portions will be in dialogue and therefore feel like first person.

Both books will have rock star girl characters. I missed my rock 'n' roll while writing Book 2 (though Book 2 is musical in it's own way). They will be quite different from Emily Black though. Runaway Book's rock star girl is one who has given up on music. I think I'll be listening to a lot of Concrete Blonde while writing her. Revenge Book's rock star girl is a teenager like Emily, but much angrier. She should have been a No Doubt girl, but instead she's a Rise Against girl. (She's my Persephone, the fallen golden child; I always imagine that Persephone should be pretty pissed off at her fate.) It's very important for me to figure out the music for my books/characters. Once I figured out that Kara from Book 2 was a PJ Harvey and Screaming Trees girl, I found it much easier to write her.

So I have some music and general ideas and this whole 100 words a day thing to keep me structured. Now I embark upon new adventures. I have no idea where I'll end up, but I hope to enjoy the ride.


Anonymous said...

I love the idea of the 100x100. I think those first few hundred words are the hardest part. After that, I'm warmed up and can usually keep going for a while.

As for the books you're working on, those sound fascinating. I admire you for pushing your boundaries so far. Sometimes that makes it all the more fun, though, if more terrifying.

Sara Hantz said...

I know what you mean, being caught between two books and not knowing which way to go. It happened to me just recently. In the end I sent the ideas to my agent, one she wasn't keen on and one she loved..... so that made my decision for me!!!!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Booklady- I agree they are the hardest part, though with a novel I need to get the first few chapters to really get in a groove. And I definitely love pushing boundaries. Otherwise things get boring.

Sara- I hope someone will make my decision for me, too. Though I hope they'll say, do this one now and this one next and like both ideas!