Now that I’ve made the decision to start on something completely ‘new’, I find I’m floundering a bit. I mean, I fell in love with the world I created in FATE. I loved the town, the characters, and the plot line I’d developed to carry through at least two more novels. Giving all that up to start something new is the right thing to do, but the big question is WHAT’S NEXT?
I have a terrific list of plot ideas I’ve maintained over the last couple of years. Every time I read something weird or interesting, I add it to my ‘Plot Ideas’ file. Going back over that list, I’m tickled by some of the ideas, but not as much as I’d hoped. I even found a couple of ideas I’d sketched out – a few scenes and characters, but nothing that’s really grabbing me. Both were off-world stories; they have possibility, but aren’t the kind of story I want to write at this time. You see, I want to write Urban Fantasy, since that’s what I enjoy reading. Might as well write what I love.
So I went back to the process I used to start the idea for FATE. Originally, THAT story had an AWFUL opening (the protagonist comes home to find her pet had been dismembered by a roommate wielding a vacuum), unsympathetic characters, and no direction. I wrote 170 pages of THAT story before I figured out what I was doing and started over from scratch (the ONLY thing that stayed the same was the town and some of the secondary character characterizations). If I can turn that disaster into something I liked as much as FATE, surely I can do the same with the next WIP.
I’ve learned so much in the process of bringing the last manuscript to life, I want to start over in the same genre, but use my (evolving) skills to come up with an approach that is new and different. The Urban Fantasy landscape is dominated by some pretty terrific writers (which of course is the reason I love to read it). After attending the WorldCon last month, I learned the names of several other successful writers in the genre whose work I hadn’t read. And when I pitched FATE to an agent in Seattle at the writer’s conference, she asked me if I knew who the other writers were in the genre. Sure, I was nervous, but to honest, I could only name the biggies (Jim & Laurel). She suggested I research what the other successful writers are doing in the genre, and that is good advice.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m keeping the little grey cells open for inspiration, and reading some (new to me) authors in both Urban Fantasy and Fantasy to see where I need to go for my next story. I’ve also got a couple of short stories that need polishing, and I want to get those cleaned up and put to work. Last week, I felt a little down and aimless, since I wasn’t exactly writing, per se. This week, I’m calling it RESEARCH!
what about the sequel to FATE? Or you energized for a whole other story line?
Either way, I always read a bunch during those “in-between” or “Pondering” phases. I feel like it keeps me in the writing sphere while letting my brain ride the carpet of someone’s else’s imagination (like a day spa for the writer’s brain). Then I’m recharged to work on my own stuff ;-).