a warp in time
I am going through the business end of the process with the soon to be released novels - with The Recidivist still on track to make a December release date and The Crusades likely March next year. These dates remain indicative as the formatting, proofing and online bookseller final checks always seem to take longer than advised.
While this boring stuff by necessity has to occupy some of my weekends, time normally spent actually writing, I am trying to keep my creative mind ticking away by working on my next project.
I am setting aside commencing work on the fourth book in the Panopticon series. The characters in the three books comprising the series so far need a holiday as much as I do. I have developed the concept for the fouth book along with a few critical plot markers, though I have not sat down to properly develop a synopsis storyboard. It is a lot of work to flesh out a roadmap comprising around 50 scenes (as a starting point) with a coherent story arc, characters with even clearer motivations, the sources of conflict between them, and a whole lot more. Effectively, every scene is a story.
Instead I have decided to return to a project that I began thinking about in mid-2009. I want to put together two collections of short stories loosely based on dreams and philosophy. What a person dreams about when asleep, while awake, the journeys that take them into fantastic worlds that are not anchored to their immediate surroundings. Imagination can take you everywhere.
Since mid-2009 I have been jotting down the story ideas for a number of short stories as they have come to mind. In some cases I have even written the stories. I've shared the odd story with others here and there, like the one about a giant spider that thinks it is a cat. In other cases, the stories were written long ago though I will be refreshing those ancient pieces (to take advantage of my improved writing skills).
Whether a story is 3 pages, 30 pages, or 300 pages, the process of adding meat to the bones is similar. (Aside: the 300 page story is of course a novel!) I will still have to flesh out a roadmap for each and every story. If anything, a story told in fewer words is more challenging because you have less words to convey your ideas.
I always think of Ernest Hemingway to remind myself it is possible to convey a powerful message in only a few words. He (apparently) won a bet by leaving a note in a pub one day (when a friend foolishly wagered that no one could tell a story in six words or less). The note read: "For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn." Flash fiction.
I spent some of my weekend past figuring out which story ideas would make the cut for the collections. I worked on a shell for one of the stories that may never make the final cut - it was inspired by a Mary Shelley style waking dream. I worried about whether the interaction between the two protagonists in the story would be too confronting for any reader. I guess I should let a reader be the judge of that.
Putting together the short story collections will be about a 12-18 month project end to end. This assumes I do not decide to return to Gabriel, the main protagonist in the Panopticon series, in the mean time. This is more to his journey and I will need closure at some point in the not too distant future.