Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Maybe not a good idea

You are tired, still cranky for the long tail of a bad case of the flu. It’s cold and the forecast says snow. You have been having strange dreams when you manage to sleep,and have been listening to Japanese music these last three months. You are short on money and have a ton of stuff to write in the hope that someone will pay you and you will have enough to pay the next mortgage installment.

So you spend the whole night up, drinking green mint tea and writing the first four thousand words of a new story. One that you might, it’s true, pitch to a publisher, but that’s the mother of all the long shots.

And you do not just go and start a new story. No, you start writing a new frigging novel. But wait, it gets better than that. You start writing the first novel in a series.

That’s crazy.

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A few books for indie authors

This post is the product of a few exchanges I had over the last two weeks with a few friends and colleagues, about writing and in particular about writing as a freelance/independent/mercenary writer.

I am convinced one can learn anything from a book, and thank goodness there’s a lot of great books out there. I am listing a fer here that represent, to me, the minimum library for the independent writer. This is not of course the Word of God – it’s just my personal list of favorites.
Your mileage might vary.

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Scrap paper

One of Bob Heinlein’s rules for writers is, you shall finish what you started. It’s useless to start a dozen stories and not finish even one of them. And I did, for ages – I had boxes full of started-and-never-finished short stories, back when I still used a typewriter. And later, diskettes – dozens of them.

Nowadays, what with the fact that writing is paying the bills and all that, I finish what I start – or try to be smart enough to drop it after 1000 words tops. If the story is not working for me after 1000 words (give or take 200), it means that it needs more thinking and planning. I drop it and move on to something more defined, that I can reasonably start and finish.

This is the case with the stories in the new series I had planned, and that are going nowhere. I have three – count’em, THREE! – stories outlined and defined, the characters are profiled and engaging (to me, at least) but the stories fail to start up. They are limp and undefined. They are broken. They are bad. So I dropped them.

I’m moving on to other things, while ideas sediment and I wait for the right angle to become clear. This means that my planned new project on a new platform will have to wait. But what the hell – there’s my name on the stories, they are better be good.


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Titles

Two thousand words into a four thousand words story that will turn into a six thousand words story, I have a title for the thing but not for the series that this story is part of. This is the sort of problems that writers face, and there’s nothing about it in the handbooks.

There’s a lot of things you need to do when you write that the handbooks don’t cover: finding a title for the story and/or the series, writing a blurb…

The story i s called Weekend in Monaco, like one of the Rippingtons songs I’ve been playing in the background while writing. The fact that the story is set in Monaco is also significant.
This will be the first in a series and the first in a new bold experiment etc etc.
I have the characters, the premise, the action and twelve – count them, twelve! – stories already outlined.
But what do I call the series?
I might in the end just go for the name of the main characters, and call it Gastrell & Molinot.
But I’d like to do something a little more… umph.
Oh, well, first let’s write the stories, and see if they work with the public…


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The Bradbury-Heinlein Method

So, to recap: Ray Bradbury said you should write a story per week, for one year, because nobody can write 52 stinkers in a row. On the other hand, Bob Heinlein said you should finish what you start writing, and send it off to a publisher, and keep posting it until you sell it, no matter how many times it bounces back.

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48 hours to write

I am turning off the cell phone and shutting down my connection because I got a very attractive call for a science fiction story yesterday, that comes with a slight drawback: the call closes in 48 hours. Can I make it?
Of course I can.
Maybe.

The fun bit is, for one of those strange serendipitous things that happen, the call – that is for a story about the future of sex, of all things – arrived in my mailbox just as i was watching a video on Youtube.
This video, from thew 1969 musical Sweet Charity:

… and it sort of gave me the basic idea on which to start writing.

Say, wouldn’t you like to know what’s goin’ on in my mind?

Well, that got me something going on in my mind, and I’m currently 600 words into the story. I’ll let you know what comes out of it.