The Plan

Okay, so here's the writing plan. None of this is particularly original. But it is enough of a plan that it actually gives me a roadmap, something I need if I'm to make any progress at all. As to the plan itself . . .

Okay, so here’s the writing plan.  None of this is particularly original.  But it is enough of a plan that it actually gives me a roadmap, something I need if I’m to make any progress at all.  As to the plan itself . . .

I would like to be able to write a novel or two.  Or more.  And get them published. You know.  To make it easier to get a novel published, I want to create a track record by publishing shorter fiction, short stories.  At the same time, it struck me that I could use short stories to develop characters for the novel.

So my thought was to take a basic novel idea, even if not fully formed, figure out who the main characters are, and write stories about each.  And further, that the stories would highlight some trait of that character that is central to their actions in the novel. So, for instance, if a character in the novel is particularly political, try to write the story about how they got that way.

Not really an original idea, I’m sure.  But one that breaks things down in a manageable fashion.  With luck, I can publish these stories in magazines, collect them as a book, then use that as a foundation for a novel.

Ya, not original.  But simple.  Well, still a lot of work.  Approachable might be a better word.  Less overwhelming?

Whatever.

2 comments

I’m sorry my comment is longer than your blog.

In my experience, the publication of short fiction is not going to get you any track record that’s usable in the novel-length fiction publishing world. It’s just two different worlds altogether.

What DOES help (or so I’ve heard) is actually having a good online readership base. So if you present a manuscript to an agent and say here, here’s my ms, and I have a hit rate of x hits a day (like in the 1000s) for my blog, and I have a readership base who loves my ass, then THAT helps. That shows you’re commercial, that you can instantly sell some units, that you have enough marketing sense to sell yourself already, and that you have something that generates a following. Plus you’re developing content and getting close to real time feedback as to whether it works or not.

Presenting a ms to an agent and saying I’ve published short stories shows that you can put words on paper, but doesn’t give them anything to give to the publisher that will make the publisher more comfortable about taking a chance on you, a first time writer. I mean, because really… who reads short stories anyway? Other short story writers, right? Sorry, but it really is a niche market for the purists. And a great way to brush up your own writing skills (more on that below).

However, writing a bunch of thematically linked short stories with a goal towards ultimate compilation has some interesting aspects, because then you’re subsidizing the pieces of your book by writing it in chunks (and getting piecemeal feedback rather than one big thumbs up or thumbs down after two years of work). Plus you’re breaking things down in a manageable fashion. Which makes all kinds of sense.

So I think there are are pluses and minuses to both approaches. If you were to develop content online and get a readership, you kind of are working directly with the audience to play with character and plot and voice and tone. You’d get instant feedback in the form of increasing/decreasing hits.

On the other hand, it’s a much less formal forum, so you’re not developing the craftsman chops that you’re also going to need to put the real words on the real paper for real publication (and real money). So developing things as short stories first, and getting them good enough to be published in these small publications, is also important. That part gives you discipline and forces you to really be rigorous in your form.

Maybe a two-prong approach would be useful. Just thinking out loud.

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