Friday, October 06, 2006

Who's Our Next Contestant?

Ok, so I'm out of town. Again. This time, a road trip to Memphis, Tennessee to attend a users group conference. Woo hoo. At least I don't have to fly this time. The venue was close enough for me to rent a car and drive with a co-worker. I got back late last night and took today off work as my reward.

I'm writing this blog ahead of time so I don't have to be witty on cue when I get home late after 6 hours of driving.

Now, a topic...hmm....

I've been trying to decide what book to work on lately. It's funny - a few months ago, when I was finishing FE, I started to panic - I had no books in my head to write next. Everyone else was chatting about their next idea and I was dumbfounded. So, during one very important business meeting (I'm so naughty), I started brainstorming some new ideas. Well, that just opened a floodgate, let me tell you. I jotted all the ideas down in a word document and forced myself to write the sequel to FE because it was the most immediate in my mind and all the vampire stuff was still fresh.

Well, now I've finished DD. Well, 95% of it. It's in such a state that I could quickly clean it up and get it out if I needed to. I'm tired of it, tired of vampires, and I'm ready to start working on something else. The question is...what? One of my story ideas, which I lovingly refer to as PIMPS, could be next. What worries me is that it is meant to be a single title (the first of four) and I'm not sure I can pull that off yet. I've already got two well received chapters of it written, but I need to do a lot more plotting before I can move on with it. Another project, DALD, is a fully plotted paranormal suspense. It's an old story that I wrote originally when I was twelve, but have tweaked and fleshed out. I could write that one. The hero was very loudly proclaiming his distrust of women last night as I got in the shower. I could easily start that, since he's louder than usual. There's also the third and final vampire book, which is rolling around in my head as well.

Not as well formed are about five other plotlines, each itching to get out. One of the problems I've had in the past was working on too many stories at once and finishing none. I've beat this by only allowing myself to work on one story at a time. I've finished three books this way and I know its what I have to do. If I get an urgent idea for something else, I jot it down so I don't forget and I put it away.

So...what do I write? The third in the series I've started while I can still remember what I said in the last two? That's the practical choice, although a wasted effort if the other two don't sell. The category paranormal that is plotted and ready to write? That's the easy choice. The single title that is going to whoop my butt, but could very well be my breakthrough book (someone else's words, not mine)?

My instinct says to write the book that feels the most vivid and alive. The one that has the characters and story that excites me the most. That's the single title. Unfortunately, I'm scared to write that one. I don't know that I'm ready for it. The high page count, the intricate plot, the subplots, the character development...its a big task for someone this early in their career. I can hear the Mavens sitting at their computers saying "just suck it up and write the book." And its true. I'll never know unless I try, but would the effort be better spent on a category book right now that is more likely to do something.

Sigh. Which one would you write next?


Problem Child said...

A very wise Maven told me not too long ago to write the book that's screaming to get out--not the one you think *should* be written next.

(I paraphrase. She was much more eloquent.)

But you get my point.


Jennette said...

I'm with the Mavens and PC - go for the single title! Worry about word count in revisions and you may find that you don't need to worry about it at all.

Instigator said...

You know which one I want you to write. I want to read more!! :-)


Linda Winstead Jones said...

Since you already know what I'm going to say . . .

Yes, write the book that's screaming to get out. Write the book that feels strongest to you. The day will come when you have an editor telling you what she wants next, but right now you get to choose.

Sometimes new characters seem very strong to me, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to write their story. It just means they're very fresh. But something that's been rattling around a while -- that's gold. Go for it.


Kathy said...

Whatever you decide to do, SP, it will be fantastic. FE was fabulous! I know the sequels will be, too.

I think of it this way. The character of your single title will work you up into a tether unless you set him free. As in olden times when someone was sick, they brought in the leaches to syphon out disease. Write! Let the keyboard be the leach sucking out the your character's frustration. Flush out those ideas while they are fresh, free the character who needs freedom the most.

Listen to your heart. Deep down, you know what you need to do.


Maven Linda Howard said...

You pay attention to the screamer, of course. Longer word count? You don't think of the total, you think of telling the story regardless of how long or short the word count. You think of what's right in front of you, not what's way out there.