Thursday, June 4, 2015

My Next Project

I just wanted to let you all know that I very much appreciate that many of you have been very supportive of my books.  An Experiment has three reviews (all pretty positive) so far, and it is consistently in the top three in its genre (albeit a very niche category).  So it's been pretty well-received, I think. 

I'd still like some feedback on Control, so in a couple of weeks, I'm going to be running a FREE BOOK PROMOTION for twenty-four hours (scheduled for 6/14).  So if you want to read the new book, but you don't really want to pay for it, that's your chance.  Hopefully it will be as successful as the last promotion. 

I haven't decided whether the older books will be eligible for the same promotion yet.  I suppose it depends on what sales are doing.

So onto the point of this post...

I wanted to share a couple of my next projects with you all - partly to drum up interest, and partially to give you guys a peak into my process.

The next novel will be a sequel to An Experiment.  It's  untitled as of yet (I usually don't name them until I'm finished), but it will center on a cop in a gender role reversed future who is forced to travel back in time (to our present) to stop the reversal before it starts.  As the events in An Experiment were a prelude to those changes, you can expect to see a couple of familiar faces. 

I chose this as my next project because, while a few of my other stories are further along, An Experiment has been pretty popular, and I wanted to take advantage of that.  Also, it allows me to engage in one of my favorite pastimes, which is massive world-building.  I hope you're all as excited about it as I am about writing it.

I'm almost done outlining, so it still has a little ways to go.  I expect to release it in the next couple of months, however.

The next project after that will be an age regression story where a professional basketball player is forced to endure a transformation which results in his changing into a teenaged white girl (not a complete change, mind you - that's not my style, and that little remnant of masculinity ties into the plot's resolution). 

Now - I'd like to share a little something about my process because I've fielded a few emails asking about it. 

First, I start with a high-concept idea (ie. a couple undergoes a [fairly] realistic gender role reversal at the hands of a mad scientist).  It establishes the genre, the tone, and the basic plot.  Chances are, if you're going to write a story, you've probably already tackled this step.  However, I will say that if it takes you more than a couple of sentences to describe it, it may lack narrative focus.  If that's the case, your story will meander, often resulting in a bloated piece that's difficult to follow.  You CAN make a good story like that, but it's difficult (and will take a long, long time to wrangle your plot threads). 

Once you've got your idea, it's time to create a basic outline.  Usually, I start with scene (or chapter) names that describe the overall purpose of the scene.  This step provides your story with a basic narrative structure.  It also allows you to easily alter different parts of the story for consistency.  The thing to remember is that this should not take long.  You're excited about starting your story, and you're chock full of ideas; use that excitement.

Next, you're going to dive back into that outline, adding details.  Personally, I like to establish the setting, the action, and the conclusion of each scene in my outlines.  For example, this is an excerpt from the comprehensive outline for An Experiment:

I.       Wake up to your new life
1.      Introductions
1.      Setting
1.      Medical Area
2.      Time
1.      Indefinite
2.      Action
1.      Casey and Alexis wake up naked.
2.      Restrained
3.      Screams and struggles
4.      Enter the Doctors
1.      Casey reacts by cussing them.
2.      Alexis pleads.
5.      Be calm or we will calm you.
6.      Explanation
1.      Introductions
1.      Credentials
1.      Dr. Hector Samuels
1.      One of the world's foremost endocrynologists
2.      Dr. Ingrid Harris
1.      Neurobiologist
2.      Psychologist
2.      The Experiment
1.      Gender Role Reversal
1.      Physical Changes
1.      Casey
2.      Alexis
2.      Mental Changes
1.      Prompted by Physical Changes
3.      Escape is impossible.
1.      No civilization for a thousand acres
2.      Security
4.      Restraints
5.      Guests not prisoners. 
3.      Conclusion
1.      It starts tomorrow.

You don't have to be quite as detailed as this. Conversely, yours can be quite a bit more detailed.  For instance, I've had chapter outlines take up three or four pages before.  It's all about putting enough information in there to map out your story.  I like everything laid out so that the actual writing is a simple case of syntax.  I don't have to think very much when I'm writing - I consult the outline, and I know where the story is going, where it's been, and how my characters are affected.

As I finish writing each chapter, I highlight the outline's corresponding section.  That helps me keep my place.

The next step is a character sheet, where you list each character (no matter how inconsequential), and provide a short biography, including physical characteristics, size, and personality quirks.  I also like to do skills/weaknesses, but that's just a personal preference. 

In a story like An Experiment, that's not really all that necessary - there were only a few characters in the first place.  But in some stories, you're going to have quite a few more, and believe me, they can blend together.  I've caught myself using the same name for two separate characters before. 

The character sheet itself is pretty simple; I just use a table in Word.  You can also use an Excel spreadsheet to the same effect. 

And then, finally, you're ready to write.  It's not nearly as overwhelming, once you have a plan.  And if you can make yourself stick to a schedule (I like to do a chapter a day, when possible), the story really comes together fairly quickly.  Sure, you'll change things as you go along.  That's natural - the story should evolve as you tell it.  But the prep work gives you a solid foundation on which to build. 

Once I'm finished writing (I have a habit of writing the last third of my books in a flurry of excitement), it's time to edit.  For me, this is the absolute worst part.  It's tedious.  It's time-consuming.  And it's difficult for me to omit things I've written, even if I know they're unnecessary.  Often (at least with these books), I just proofread rather than truly edit.  I may change the syntax here and there, but I've only rarely found myself adding chapters or excluding plot threads.  Maybe you'll have more self-control than me, though.

After I'm satisfied the story's complete, I get away from it for a couple of days.  During that time, I usually design the cover, write the synopsis, etc. By the time I dive back into the book, I have fairly fresh eyes, and I can recognize poor turns of phrase much more easily.  After a final read-through, I'm ready to publish.

So I hope that answers some of your questions.  And I hope that keeps you all excited for the next phase of books to come out!

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