Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Show Must Go On...

I finished Akeldama about six months ago(including first, second, and third edits).  Since then, I completed the first draft of my YA paranormal, Wrongful Death.  I plan to begin editing that one sometime in the next month.  So what does that mean I should do with my free time?  Of course I should start another book.

I'll do a post next week on writing as a business.  So, in that vein, since I plan to build something beyond a single book publication, I need to build a stable of publishable novels.  Akeldama has always been built as part of a series, and I've had the broadest notion of what its sequel would look like for years.  However, I've now got to move beyond daydreams and into the more practical aspect of putting words down on paper.

First and foremost, it's got to be a good story.  I can't stand it when an author takes his or her audience for granted and just slaps something mediocre on a page while throwing in familiar characters, hoping we'll scoop it up because it's a world with which we're already familiar.  A lot of books in the Star Wars universe are like this, and it's a big reason why I stick mostly to stories written by Timothy Zahn.  If you can't at least make an attempt to recapture the old magic, you shouldn't even write it down until you're ready to put forward better effort.

Akeldama has paranormal elements, but at its heart, it's an action/thriller.  I view it as something like Taken or Die Hard with a bunch of vampires.  The types of creatures in the story matter, but only as a vehicle to advance the overall plot.  Well, this next one will incorporate a few more paranormal pieces, but they too are only present to add to the story.  Although it'll take a while to get a real title, its working one is Paciscor Per Diobolus, and it's a mystery/thriller.  Most of the cast from Akeldama  is back, and they're charged with solving a series of murders that link to a larger plot on behalf of one of the antagonists from the previous novel.  That supernatural monsters are central to the plot doesn't mean that one needs to be a lover of monster to enjoy the book.
Much like in Salvation Day, I know the beginning and ending of this story, but I don't know the meat in the middle.  The opening has been a scene in my mind since I first thought about what should follow Seth Gendrickson's battles with the original vampire, and the ending is intended to set up the third book along the George Lucas formula for The Empire Strikes Back(put everyone into an impossible situation, and then spend the third story getting them out of it).

My plan is to have the first draft written by the end of the year, and I'd like that draft to come in around 120,000 words.  I know I'll end up cutting about 25% of it, so I'd like to have a nice 90,000 word tale(although my last work reminded me that a story will end when it's ready to end).  I've got the first 20-ish pages outlined, and I want to get into it even further so I can find out what happens.  I think most writers are just as surprised as the readers when the story takes unexpected twists and turns, and while a general path is known, there are too many things that can happen for us to see the full story before it's written.

Since I know who the main villains are going to be in this story, I've already begun research into what they're like.  Yesterday, I printed out 18 pages of material for background and read them while sitting in my TV room(much to the chagrin of my wife).  These pages now sit in my outline book, and I'm sure they won't be the last I'll download.  Apart from the creatures themselves, I've got to get a lot more familiar with police procedures than I am now.  Sure, in Akeldama I could get away with surface work because there were only a couple of scenes where even the most peripheral knowledge was necessary, but it's going to be a staple of this book.  That means presenting a credible front that won't be taken down except by the most obnoxious pricks, and they're not really my target audience anyway.
I won't post a synopsis on this one yet, mostly because doing so would give away too much from the first book in the series, and I don't want to spoil the suspense.  However, just to have some fun and see if I have any chops at all at this query business, I do plan to enter the synopsis I wrote a couple of months ago in a query letter contest to see what happens(no, this doesn't mean I'm abandoning indie publishing, just going on a validation crusade to see if I can get anyone's tongue wagging).

Part of me wishes I could tamp down on the gusher of stories I have within me, but that'd require a complete personality overhaul, and I'm too old to start over.  Since I'm looking at this through a business lens, it's probably a good thing I'll produce enough stock to have enough on the shelves when this takes off.  For now, it's simply time for another crazy story to begin, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

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