Friday, March 25, 2011

That pesky next novel idea

Since I'm knee-deep in the waiting game--and I am sure that eventually I will (a) be picked up by an agent, (b) receive nothing but rejections and become a depressed wino, or (c) decide "Plan Z" was the right way to go from the get-go--I have to move on to the next book idea to keep myself writing; and that is the whole point: to keep writing.

Going on to the next book is a tried-and true tactic for keeping yourself busy while waiting for the next (hopefully not) rejection slip. So I thought I'd drop a little info your way on what it is that I'm working on.

My current writing project is called MINIMAL (and yes, the title in all caps is intentional). It's a modern-day cop story. Though I know where the story is going (it's in my head), I haven't put down on paper (or in any format, including electronic) the synopsis or even told anyone what's going on with it. The intrepid few who choose to read it are, in fact, learning the depths of my insanity one page at a time as I write it.

The story is pretty basic, really. Two lonely cops investigate a series of homicides unlike anything they've encountered before. The victims are dismembered surgically, and the bodies are left in various places around the city. Each victim is numbered...one...two...four...six...

Where the hell is "three?" Nobody knows. The police don't know about "five" yet; and "six" was just abducted.

The "bad guy" is, unknown to the authorities, a medical student at the university; and just like all serial killers, he has been given a nice nick-name by the news media: "The Count."

Yes, The Count, just like the muppet. But he's not purplish or funny. But he does have some crazy plan; it's just that nobody but him knows what that is. Yet.

I just two days ago finished chapter 8 of the tale, and hope to write chapter 9 today. As is my method, I tend to write about 1000 words or so--but lately, these chapters have been longer by a wee bit--and I see no need to change up my way of working. Plus, I like small chapters. You can pick 'em up and leave 'em quick. Not everyone has the time to spend in the middle of a thirty thousand word chapter. Screw that! Get in. Get going. Get out. Get on with life. That's how I write.

Call me crazy, but it works for me.

Right now, the book is about nineteen thousand words. I have no idea how long a story it is. I think it will be about 77,000 words--but don't quote me. I'll not have a true knowledge of it until it's actually "in the bag," as they say, and that is many chapters from now.

But I digress. There is a theme running through the chapters, music. Each chapter has a song, mentioned usually by name, and the tune is something, although not critically important to the plot, that is just a bit of ambiance I use to set the mood. I've got some pop-crap, metal, and progressive rock mentioned. I hope the songs I mention are popular enough that they will do the job for me without me having to explain too much.

It's weird, but somehow the writing always lines up just the way I want. I know what you're thinking, "Gee, mister author-wannabe, isn't that the point? It's your story, of course it should all line up properly! Duh!"

That's not what I mean. Let me try to explain: my mind works on stories at an unconscious level. (That's a good thing, because I doubt I could think consciously about dismemberment for long without the need of a psych doctor to straighten me out.) Usually, when I sit down to write, I have a complete scene in my head and all I have to do is just type it out. I can whip out the whole segment in less than an hour most days. Sure, sometimes the word choice needs revision--I'm a stickler for the cadence of the way words flow, don't ask me why--but otherwise, the whole thing is there, in my head, at the moment I sit and begin.

I've heard some authors just pound out page after page, sometimes rewriting the same paragraph many times until they get it right. To me, that sounds really ineffectual, like they are doing more of a stream of conscious thought rather than just working with narrative plot. I can't deride their chosen method, as it works fine for them; but I wonder in my caveman brain how that all works out. It clearly does, but to me that seems alien.

What drives me a little crazy is that while I'm working on something currently, the next story is already bouncing around in my head. It even has a title! If only I could write as fast as I think...

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