I have been working through a book of 100 Science Fiction prompts, and the progress was slow at first, but acceptable. I quite liked my first story, and the second and third stories were all right even if a bit silly. The fourth story ended completely broken but I have a strong idea how to fix it.
Then came number 5.
So far the rough drafts of each story has taken about 11 days to fiinsh
I have been working on story 5 for 20 days.
So far, the rough drafts have been over 5,200 words in length.
At about the 5,000 word mark I tried scrapping everything and “write the good stuff”.
It’s not working.
There is no good stuff.
I am back to “I cannot think of the very next word to put down”.
Oddly, I like the world. I like the characters. I love the laconic voice the narrator had over the first few days, but lost. I like the idea, but I’m not finding the story.
At this pace, I’ll never get to the novellas.
This being the Year of the Novella, after all, I needed to build some writing momentum. There are lots of projects that get it my head and shove the writing out of the way, and to get to my Novellas I need to get through stories.
This is a clearinghouse year for me. Every writer who has made it has given me the same advice: Finish what you start. Well, I don’t. That is, I haven’t been and that’s changing this year.
I found a book of science fiction prompts. 100 prompts that look like they are organized to go through the history of science fiction. I am reading one prompt, writing a story, finishing the story, then moving on to the next prompt. I have already gone through the first edits of the first story, and finished the second story today. Tonight I read the third prompt, let it ruminate in my backbrain, and tomorrow I start.
With two stories finished, I have noticed something. The first story began with a freewrite until I had the first line, the goal, and the ending come to me in a sudden burst. I didn’t use that ending, but I used the shadow ending. The character didn’t get what they wanted, but hopefully they got what they needed. That story took me a week to write, which is longer than I had hoped. I managed to write every day but not at a pace that would finish a novel in a year.
The second story also started with the freewrite until the first line and world came to me. I didn’t have an ending. I wrote and wrote and wrote for eleven days and it hurt. I had no focus, no ending, no real idea of what the character wanted. After finishing the draft, I think I know what he needed. I’m not sure.
So momentum builds. I have one more flight before I get back to the Great Metropolitan Rain Forest. I look forward to seeing your Aunt Stephanie again.
I have called 2015 the Year of the Novella, as I plan on cranking out my stories that I feel are novella length. Actually, they may be novelette length but I’m being optimistic. The second project has to do with reading more, and actually tracking what I read.
I subscribe to Analog, Asimov’s, F&SF, and Clarkesworld through my Kindle. I get Daily Science Fiction in my email, and of course Strange Horizons is out every week with something worth reading. Tor.com is constantly publishing things. I am drowning in new fiction to read, and yet I don’t. So I’m being intentional about it. My goal is one story a day, but I fell short of that goal, because programming appeals to me and can suck up my time. Plus, the library finally got me a copy of Grimm season 3, so there was week of mainlining television shows. (Yeah, it’s a poor excuse. I have lunch breaks.)
Novels read in January 2015: The Serpent of Venice (Christopher Moore), Ship Breaker (Paolo Bacigalupi), Lock In (John Scalzi), The Galton Case (Ross Macdonald), and Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus 7 (Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima).
I won’t enumerate the short fiction, but I will cover highlights. I read 12 storise by men, 10 by women, and 1 I’m not sure about. My goal is to balance the gender distribution. My goal was also to read a story a day, but I only managed 23 in January. These included 7 novelettes, 15 short stories, and 1 flash. I read 21 different authors.
Short fiction highlights:
Forgiveness, by Leah Cypress (Asimov’s)
This story challenged me on many levels. I tend not to read emotionally, but I really did not know how to feel after reading this. Thinking back on it still gets me worked up. Damn good story.
Blue Ribbon, by Marissa Lingen (Analog)
Another story that got me involved. I loved the idea that 4-H would be applied to colonies in the Oort cloud. I had nothing but sympathy for the kids in the story, and I cheered them on.
Tasha’s Fail-Safe, by Adam-Troy Castro (Analog)
Great spy stuff. I had forgotten that I had read other Andrea Cort stories, so this was a re-introduction to her world. I have always struggled with trying to make each character smarter than all the other characters, and end up stuck in heads as potential plans unfurl. This is a good example of how to write smarter-than-thou characters and deal with them.
I score each story on a scale from 1-5, and after the first week or so, my scores were all 4s and 5s but things settled down to a bunch of 3s and a 2. Reading this much is bound to get a higher noise to signal ratio. There are some stories I just don’t like, but I have to read them anyway on this diet. I suspect I’ll find myself landing on a bell curve, slightly skewed to the higher numbers.
The final numbers were a 3.24 average.
Hopefully I’ll be more active in February, but I have started a new writing project, which will eat into my reading time.