One of the greatest pleasures in a writer’s life is choosing which project to work on next. It’s like a romance–probably the best date you’ll be on is the one you imagine. After my (long overdue) trunking of Project Carson, I find myself in the delightful position of getting to start a new project. I’m even thinking of trying a comedy.
I’ve never been one of those people who feels like they have infinite ideas, so when I get one I tend to let it kick around in my brain for awhile, gestating. The project idea that I’ve settled on for my new novel has had various iterations (the failed Project Karen was kind of a spin off of this concept) that I’ve done bits and pieces of. My failing was always in that I wrote it in my sci-fi style, which is more literary than I wanted. For my new novel idea (shall we call it The Project as my main character is as yet unnamed?) I’m going to try something completely new for me.
I’m going to write it in a YA style.
No, not Twilight-YA, bastard.
One of my weaknesses has always been humor. And action sequences. So I’m going to try a funny action novel.
The actual writing probably won’t start until next week, because I have a process, you see. And it goes something like this.
Step 1: Get a Protagonist. I can never start a new project until I know exactly who the main character will be. As this novel is going to be first-person (another thing I rarely do) I have to know the character’s voice, as well.Two of my former fool-around writing bits had sort of the same voice so I’m not too worried about that. But I don’t have a name, which is very important to me. I’m not one of those people who can change names later on.
Step 2: Do Your Research. For Project Karen, I took a map of New York and marked every character’s house, every important location, and the locations of important plot points. I referred to it maybe three times but it helped me get into the story. The Project will be a little easier location-wise as I’m setting it either in Ann Arbor or a fictional town modeled after my own, both of which I am very familiar with. But I still want to do some research on genetics, earthquake patterns, and sewing (its an eccentric novel).
Step 3: Reference Photos. Another idiosyncrasy of mine. I like to have photos not only of the characters but of places and also just atmospheric scenes. All of my research/reference will go in a binder for the writing. Luckily I don’t have to do as much as I did for my globe-trotting novel, but there will still be lots to collect.
Step 4: Write Utter Crap. No novel-beginnning is complete without a good dose of crap. When I started Project Carson, I wrote about 5,000 words of scenes that never actually went in the book. It gets me in the swing of things. I like to put the characters in situations that are completely ridiculous and fool around with them. Come to think of it, maybe this is why I like fanfic.