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Searching for something else entirely, I stumbled across this old post from March 2007 where I asked my faithful readers to help me choose what to write next. I decided it would be fun to do an update. Fun for me, anyways.1
First on the list of possibilities is this one:
The compulsive liar book narrated by a—you guessed it—compulsive liar. Downside: will involve lots of outlining. I hates outlining. Plus it’s going to be so hard! Upside: whenever I mention this one folks get very excited.
Sound familiar? Why, yes, it’s the book I wrote next: Liar which published in September this year. As it happens it involved no outlining at all. But I was right it was hard. Much harder than I knew at the time. It also generated more excitement than I anticipated.
The other now completed item on the list was this one:
Try to write a short story. I’ve had a brain wave for completely transforming a story of mine that’s never worked into one that will. It involves making the ending not suck (why did I not think of that before?!) and setting it a couple hundred years ahead of where it’s set now. It involves no research. Downside: I suck at short stories. Upside: Not starting from scratch and may lead to an actual good story. That would be cool!
The story was “Thinner than Water”, which was published in 2008 in Love is Hell. You can find a bit more about the story here. Even if I do say so myself it is an actual good story. I’m proud of it. But it was many years work and I think I’ll be sticking to novels from here on out.
I don’t know why the 1930s book isn’t on that list. I was already thinking about writing it in October 2006. Though the specifics didn’t come together until a fortuitous conversation with Cassie Clare in 2007. (Thank you, Cassie!)
The other idea on that list I’ve made a substantial start on is this one:
Protag’s father goes missing presumed dead on account of he and protag’s mum very into each other. Mum is forced to take in a lodger to help pay the mortgage. She advertises for a female uni student but takes in a strange youngish man who has no visible means of support and yet pays the rent on time. He’s gorge and speaks a zillion languages but the seventeen-year old girl protag doesn’t trust him. Her twin brothers (eight years old) almost immediately fall under his sway. I could go on, but it’s just not very pitchable. Alas. Downside: Not very ptichable. Tis one of those books that’s clear in my head but takes months to explain. Sigh. Upside: tis very clear in my head.
I have, in fact, recently resumed work on it. Though as I am at work on many other things that does not mean the lodger novel will be finished any time soon.
Actually none of the other things I’m working on is included on that list. Mostly because I hadn’t thought of them way back then. Which just goes to show you that ideas really are a dime a dozen. Why, I just got a new one yesterday that I’m valiantly struggling against given that I already have four novels on the go. Five would be too many.
It was lovely looking at that list from almost two years ago and realising that in the intervening time I’d written two of them. Novels take ages and for me short stories take even longer. It will be many years before I write all those books. If, indeed, I write them at all. Most likely I’ll forgot about them and move on to other shinier ideas.
Because it’s not about the ideas, it’s about what you do with them. My barely sketched out idea of Liar from early 2007 does not invoke the completed book. There’s no mention of murder, no sense of what Micah is like, and no hint of why she lies. The book you write is never a perfect match with the imaginary book that was in your head before you began.
And now I must go and do some of that writing thing. Hmm, lodger novel? 1930s? Or that shiny new idea from yesterday . . . ?
Posted by Justine at 19:59, 26 December 2009 under 1930s NYC novel, Liar, Love is Hell, What to write next, Writing goals & milestones, Writing life, Writing process | 10 Comments »
The lodger novel sounds fascinating, I really hope we all get the chance to read it someday
December 26th, 2009 at 8:30 PM
Virtual reference librarians never take a day off (if we can help it), so I’m reading it. It’s interesting that short stories take you longer to write than novels.
December 26th, 2009 at 8:43 PM
Ooooooh, the lodger novel! I do hope you finish it sometime because I’ve loved that idea ever since you first told us about it! Looooooove. It’s sounds….creepy, but in a really, really delicious way. *nom*
December 26th, 2009 at 9:07 PM
I also really like the idea of the creepy boarder. Hope to be able to read it someday.
December 26th, 2009 at 9:46 PM
and another vote for the lodger/boarder
December 26th, 2009 at 10:39 PM
I clicked on the link to your previous post, and I am very much like you. I write the first draft without outlining – I can’t. Characters only come alive when I really start to write. I’ve made charts beforehand and they always change – so much.
Your idea actually sounds interesting, but I can see how it would need more explanation to not sound like it’s one of those “it’s been done before” novels.
December 27th, 2009 at 12:04 AM
The lodger idea sounds good to me too. I do enjoy creepy and it has hints of mystery. Love mysteries.
But you know what I really want from you. Some action on the hardcourt, a little B-Ball, the squeak the of the sneaks. Some ladies with some serious game
December 27th, 2009 at 2:56 AM
J-A Brock Says:
interesting exercise – keep notes on your initial thoughts then look back on them later. it would certainly shed light on the creative process, which might be useful. i might give that a try!
December 27th, 2009 at 5:39 AM
The OTHER Tally Youngblood Says:
I just decided to post so I can kudos you (Justine) on how EPIC liar is! But nit’s making my brain hurt… But for a great story, I don’t mind a little brain hurtage! Thanks for a great read!
December 27th, 2009 at 4:16 PM
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