May 15th, 2012



I've just realized that I need to do a writing post tomorrow, and I have no clue what to talk about. Hit me with questions about craft, the business or the life, please!

I spent a lot of yesterday pondering what kind of story could include all those elements I mentioned yesterday -- the caper, trapped with a killer and with a freedom fighter in hiding while there's internal tension and one of the characters has to step up. I'd been thinking that I'd have to come up with an entirely new story or series idea because it didn't fit into anything I currently have in the works, but now I've realized that if I give the elements a few twists, that's actually a perfect scenario for a climax to a story idea I've been mentally playing with where I have the set-up but I couldn't come up with a plot. That one's going to take a lot of research, and when I get a chance to work on it could depend on what happens with a book that has supposedly just gone out on submission. If that one doesn't sell, then this could be my next stab. If it does sell, I'll need to write those sequels.

But I suppose I may as well start some of the reading for the research, since I finished the last available book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and now I need to find something else to read. The trick will be to find the right transition. I think I need something lighter (and shorter), but at the same time, that's a pretty immersive world, and something too far from it would be hard for me to get into right now.

I must say that getting to the end (so far) and having the story still entirely unresolved, combined with the season finale of Once Upon a Time, is making me realize that I like closure. I read an essay recently on how these books aren't so much "books" as they are chunks of story. In a sense, this is similar to the way Dickens' books were published, as one big story in serial form, but instead of publishing chapters monthly to tell a novel-length story, it's Dickens-length books published every five years or so to tell one story. Meanwhile, Once Upon a Time seems to be telling one story that may morph and adjust over the course of the series without ever being truly resolved until the series gets cancelled. I guess there's a reason I never really got into soap operas because that slow progress and lack of resolution is very unsatisfying.

On the other hand, I'm also not crazy about the pure procedurals where each story stands entirely alone and has no consequences down the line. They don't do a lot of those these days because they'll at least have some kind of season arc, even if it's just in the characters' personal lives, but I remember the cop/detective shows in the 80s where an episode might end with one of the heroes seriously injured or in love with a guest character, and in the next episode he's fine and there's no sign or mention of his one true love.

I seem to like a hybrid, where there's an overall big-picture arc but there are also episode cases that get resolved, so there's some closure even while the big-picture story continues, like with Grimm and Haven. Or shows like Buffy and Angel and Deep Space Nine most of the time, where there might be a Big Bad for the season and instead of a true cliffhanger at the end of the season they'd actually resolve that season's story arc and defeat that Big Bad, and then in the last moment they'd introduce the next season's problem. In between, there might be standalone episodes with sub-problems that might or might not relate to the arc that could be resolved.

That's sort of what I've tried to do with my books. The same Big Bad is out there, but each book is about defeating a particular scheme. And now for your weekly Book 5 hint:

Book 5 wraps up the arc of the series so far. We learn who the real Big Bad is and have the ultimate confrontation with that Big Bad. Think of this as the season finale.