To Go Boldly…Where? (Part I)

2013/05/01 § Leave a comment

I’ve made my commitment: to write (see Introductions). Now what?

Now it’s time to plan!

I’ve always be fond of planning. At this stage, sky is the limit. Everything fits together nice and tidy. You are imposing order, your order, on the chaos and uncertainty of the future. Your path is as you make it, straight or meandering, simple or tentacular, ingenuous or Machiavellian. You are the master, and the Universe bows to your will.

Then comes implementation, and the Universe shows you who the real boss is. Implementation’s a bitch.

All that to say, planning can be fun, but, to paraphrase a famous man, one has to be realistic.

For me, the first step would be to establish a writing objective. It’s all well and good to say I want to write, but what does that mean? I’m writing now, is that enough? Or is success a 1,000,000-word-plus decalogy?

Given my unimpressive history at writing, I think I need to start with something modest that will yield tangible results in the relatively short-term. Something to get me started, you know? To show me over the next few weeks/months whether I can actually do it.

Not a short story. Although I’ve read some amazing short stories, I’ve found I’m not a big fan of the genre – they usually leave me unsatisfied. (Please don’t see this as a denigration of short story writers. The skill and focus needed to wrap up a good story in so little words is impressive. I’m just more of a long-form kinda guy.)

I’m thinking something more along the lines of 20,000-25,000 words. I see that as an equilibrium point between having sufficient story space to tell something complex and multifaceted and starting with something manageable (for me). I like stories with twists and mysteries, and these need to be set up at some length. But I need to be careful not to get entangled in too many characters, too many arcs, too much world building. I know from experience that I must be wary of projects that are too long-term with nebulous ends. I’m not terribly good at getting them done. To get me on the road, 20,000 is words enough that it will be good practice, without committing me too early to the long haul that could kill my new-found resolve.

A good example that this can be an interesting length is The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson, estimated to be approximately 30,000 words in length. It’s a nifty story, well told and well-rounded, and I’d love to be able to draft something even a tenth as good.

This (writing) being entirely new to me, I’m probably misguided in my assessments. But, you know what they say: a rock won’t learn to roll down a mountain if it won’t try to roll down a cliff. Yeah, they say that. What I mean is, I’ll learn! That’s the whole point of this thing. Of course, if somebody as any sort of insight, I’d be happy to hear it.

I’ve consciously set aside publishing considerations from the setting of my objective. What I need at this stage is to develop a work habit and a writing discipline, and see what fits with my other life (work, cooking diner, that sort of thing). Thinking about publication can come once I’ve written a few hundred thousand words more…

So, my objective is: to write a story of at least 20,000 word.

This is of course incomplete. It doesn’t even take care of the what: 20,000 words about what? And when do I plan to be done?  Stay tuned for Part II…


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