Jul 20

The Big Push

I’ve been away on yet another sabbatical, and as you may have guessed not much has moved in this period. No real excuse; I just haven’t written as much as I had planned, and as a result didn’t have much to update the site with. However, rather than with previous fits of non-writing, this time around I am starting to feel a little more stressed, given that I’ve set a deadline and all.

Now, I could just change the deadline but am really quite adamant I won’t for 2 main reasons:

1) October is an important month for the series, given its slightly mysterious bent and Halloween being so closely intertwined. Also, the first story from the 2nd year is all about Halloween in Hope Town, so I want to be able to hit that

2) I’m not going to put this off any longer

Time is marching on, and I feel that this whole non-published thing is like the proverbial albatross around my neck and I think the best way to remove that weight is to get something published. I hope – and believe – that when I get the first of these stories out there, and have more waiting to go, the whole thing will continue to flow and the momentum will carry me out of the self perpetuating funk.

I hope. I believe.

So, the big push starts here and that means more writing, more updates and a runaway train all the way to October and beyond.

May 17

The Hope Town Logo: Take 2

After a false start, here is the official Hope Town logo.

hopetownlogo2

I’m really happy to have this now, because it somehow makes it all the more real.

May 14

The Back Matters

Back in the past when I was looking to publish a collection of my drabble pieces, I wanted to include a little more. The idea was to provide some context around the thought process for each short; how I came up with the each idea and how it evolved into a concise 100 word story. Even though I failed spectacularly to get my finger out and publish the collection, I still have these accompanying pieces in a document in my filing.

I’ve seen this type of thing in comics for a while now, termed as backmatter; some related content included at the back of the issue which either talks about the creative process, displays artwork or has interaction with readers via a Q&A or letter column. Interestingly this seems to be more prevalent as a bonus for those investing in the monthly/weekly issue and not waiting for the inevitable trade paperback.

Anyway, as I have really liked this idea before I want to incorporate this within each published Hope Town short story. In some cases this will be context around how the story was created, and in others there may be sketches or other graphical content, and I hope to use the back of each story to provide overviews/excerpts to other stories within the Hope Town universe. Who knows, if I get any traction from readers then perhaps I can incorporate questions or other appropriate materials from then.

The idea – like the posts on the site – is to provide an insight into my creative process.

For what its worth.

May 08

Another Dilemma

Note: As this whole post deals with a subject which could lead to spoiling a few of the Hope Town short stories, it may ramble and never get to make an actual point. If that sort of thing frustrates you, then I completely understand if you skip it. However, as I’m committed to writing as much about my process and thoughts as about the writing projects themselves, its appropriate for me to document this.

 

Still with me? Good.

 

The other day, I talked about the 3 year plan for Hope Town, which I posted about 5 days after completing it. As time had moved on since then, so had my thought process and a potential issue cropped up.

Something major is set to occur within the first year, and following the mapping exercise I now wasn’t happy with the timing.

While my intention is for all of the short stories to work as standalone – to enable a reader to pick one up, read it and be satisfied they have read a complete story – the opportunity to naturally progress through the lives of the characters within this new universe is too good to pass up. As such, some events are seeded in some stories and lead into others where they can stand and shine themselves. Sort of like The Levitz Paradigm which I will summarise in a future post.

So, something happens in one of the stories which has consequences a few stories down the line, which is all fine. Except, there are reasons why the timing may not be so great now that I’ve mapped out the 3 years’ worth of stories and that begins to bug me.

It would be simple enough to push it down the schedule, and then push the resulting story further down but that could put both close to the end of the first year which doesn’t seem to be the best place for them.

I could push the first down to the end of the first year and it could be reworked as a cliffhanger, but that means the other will be in the second year and some characters/events I want to continue to have in the first year have missed that opportunity. In any case, something bigger happens in year two and including this event may make that year top-heavy.

See what I mean about it being a ramble?

Having a dog to walk and time over a long weekend to walk her a few times, I found that I was able to really run through the options in my head and come out with a solution that I am comfortable with for the moment. It could change because of the self contained nature of the short stories, but at some stage – and hopefully well before publication – I do need to get on with it and stick to a plan.

There will be plenty of time for regrets later.

May 05

Hope Town: The 3 Year Plan

Last week I took some time out and remapped everything with Hope Town, and the outcome was 3 years’ worth of short stories. The majority of these are standalone, but since they share the same universe there are links and ideas seeded in one story which pay off in another down the line. In addition, my idea to have 2 novels in there as well has been repurposed and absorbed into the monthly timeline.

I had done something similar before, but as some new ideas for stories had been forming over the past few weeks, i wanted to make sure they could be incorporated. Plus, I thought that this exercise should have a finite life, not because I felt I would grow tired of it all, but because I knew I will want to write something else as well and this project will need a lot of committment to reach the outcomes planned.

Anyway, looking at the sheet which details 36 monthly short stories is a little terrifying, I’ll admit right now. The thought of writing and editing circa 10,000 words; getting someone to proof and edit (if possible); completing a cover; publishing and marketing for each short story, each month is extremely daunting. Especially so when I have a full-time job and a family.

Still, there are positives.

For example, I’m not planning on publishing the first one until November this year which gives me about six months worth of lead time. Also, two of the stories are complete, albeit they need some editing and polish before publication. Five other short stories are mid way through being written, all around a third to half way through – with the caveat that one of those isn’t due to be released until the second year.

So, if I keep plugging on and finish off six stories by the time I release the first one, then I will have some slack built-in in case of any unforseen developments which could cause delays.

Since there will also be a repetition or rhythm to the ongoing creation, I am planning on kicking that off from 1st June. That means that from then, I’m looking to create one ready to publish short story every month and, if I can polish off some of the ones that are part way complete, then by November I should have between seven and nine stories in the can.

Take that procrastination.

Apr 07

Genre Bending

One of the ideas underpinning the Hope Town series of short stories was to explore as many genres/sub-genres as possible, because while the main characters are members of the police force, the crimes and people they will be investigating should be from a wide pool . This would not only mean the tales would be fresh each time, but I would get to have a lot of fun in the process.

While I’m still working on writing the actual first batch of stories, I’m constantly thinking of others either at a high concept level, or even just with me walking along the road and shouting “robots!” to the surprise of my fellow commuters.

As such, I’m making a list which won’t be exhaustive unless I run out of genres. I may publish an update in a few months, but for the moment here are the ones I am planning on tackling. They’re not in any speciic order, just as I’ve noted them down.

 

  • Parallel Universes
  • Satanism/Cults
  • Ghosts
  • Chupacubra
  • Superheroes
  • Time travel
  • Aliens
  • Dystopian Future
  • Vampires
  • Puppets
  • Christmas
  • Evil genius
  • Kaiju
  • Robots
  • Werewolves
  • Locked room
  • Fantasy
  • Possession
  • Halloween
  • Fairytale

 

 

Oh, and if that little lot isn’t hard enough, I want to challenge myself by creating a story entirely in rhyme. Probably the best fit will be the fairytale one.

 

 

Mar 09

Repurposing Old Ideas

I’m sure someone said that ideas, like energy, cannot be created or destroyed. If not, then please quote me*

Anyway, my point here is that something I wrote about many years ago has popped back in my head and now is scheduled to become the basis for one of the Hope Town short stories.

Yes, I’m still working on those (and we’ll talk more on that subject later).

I’m sure if you spoke to any writer on the subject, they would have many examples of plots, characters and scenes that they had scribbled down in their notebooks but never actually used for that purpose. Often, they stay within the pages and never see the light of day again. But sometimes you love something so much, that despite not being able to realise its full potential as part of an original whole, you instead find another outlet for it. Those times feel good, because you’ve nurtured something and didn’t have to abandon it to the dead ideas vault.

In this particular case, I’m actually repurposing part of a story I wrote many years ago which was part of a series chronically a career in Championship Manager. In writing that tale, I would take the actual events (transfers, matches, goals, sending offs etc) and weave them into something more humourous and strange. It culminated in an episode where we fast forwarded to a dystopian future (are there any other kinds nowadays) which was caused by a football transfer related decision which was the cliffhanger of the previous episode. Think of it as Days of Future Past, but with a football and giant robotic chickens.

Hilarity ensued.

Since Hope Town is intended to visit many a genre, a sci-fi infused future tale sounded like a perfect candidate when the old story popped back into my head. The great thing is that, while I can’t find the original story, I can remember the majority of the plot and it shouldn’t take too much to repurpose it into a tale from a future version of Hope Town.

Now its on the schedule to be written at some point, and I’ll no doubt scribble the notes down over the next few weeks. At that stage, I’ll work out where it should fit on the timeline and schedule the completion at some opportune time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Even though its probably not a logical statement, I’ll take it

Oct 28

Getting out of a Funk

So, while I thought I had a way out of the problem with the Hope Town short story series, it doesn’t look as though I actually do.

Oh, there was solution which technically was viable, but when reviewing it I wasn’t really sure that I liked it. So, I left it for a bit and then came back. After that little hiatus, I still didn’t like it, so I left it again.

This ended up morphing into an extended bout of not doing any writing at all, which is pretty much how my entire so-called writing career has progressed. Rinse, repeat; quite.

In the interim, I did go back to another novel that I had started on with the express purpose of listening to my own advice. However, even that didn’t help as at the back of my mind I really wanted to work this one out.

This all led to another bout of non-writing while I struggled with the problem in my head.

Unfortunately, I’m still not beyond that and find myself getting mired further and further into a creative funk, which is frustrating in so many ways.

What I need to do (other than stop breaking posts into paragraphs at the end of each sentence) is to just get past this and write. To hell with the niggling problem; I can deal with that when I’m ready to finally self publish, and in the meantime does it really affect the actual creation of the short stories?

I mean, there is such a thing as Find and Replace in Word, right?

Aug 08

I think I have a solution…

Following the event that I dubbed Crisis of Infinite Short Stories, I’ve put everything else to one side to try and find a resolution. It probably fed the demon procrastination that is always waiting inside me, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice or when I find that there’s something else fun to do on the internet. However, this is a big deal and I didn’t want to move on too much more with the individual short stories in case the solution that I eventually found would require big rewrites to the work so far.

Luckily I have hit on something that should work.

You might think I sound hesitant, and you’d be right; its not quite all there yet, but its not a million miles away. To get it over the line I’m going to get the camera out, some maps and the like and piece something together. In addition, I’ll need to research some historical events, to see if the initial history lesson could work in the new location.

I know, historical events. Its almost research.

This may all work out for the best because I don’t have to worry about potentially offending anyone who lived in the original location. Now, I can take the new base and build on that to create something which is completely fictional and give me full freedom to tell whatever stories I want. This will be particularly useful, if I do write some past tales at some stage (and there are tentative plans to do so in the pitch I did).

I estimate a good few hours over the weekend and early into next week should crack it. Stay tuned.

Aug 06

If Its Not Working Move On

When I’ve been working on novels in the past, I’ve always written in a non linear fashion. I would jump around a lot especially when I was struggling with a scene or a character and so rather than let the entire project slow down I would walk away (not literally) and tackle another part of the novel which I didn’t have problems with.

Until I had problems with that too of course.

This method kept me going, but I found that sometimes when I went back to the problem child I still couldn’t work through it. On some occasions I would rewrite it completely. With others I would replace it with something else that did work. On rare  occasions I would give up completely as either I had no interest in that scene or a replacement wouldn’t work.

On those occasions I realised that perhaps the novel wasn’t going to pan out, because if I couldn’t make something that was once fundamental to the story work (or worse, didn’t have any interest in a portion of it) then perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.

Throwing an entire novel (or part thereof) away when you’ve devoted a lot of time and effort (and perhaps love for a while) is a bit soul destroying and I would agonize over the decision for a good few days. Still, I would convince myself it was the right thing to do and move on to something else even though it felt like a little piece of me had died.

I’ve hit that moment with one of the short stories from the Hope Town series that I’m currently working on, but I’ve found that this time its different; a bit simpler really. I can jettison the short that I had been working on and pick up the next one. Although I’ve mapped out a lot of the series already, there’s room to pick up plot points or characters or relationships and see if they can fit in another story. Its not always going to work, but since all the stories are designed to be self contained its not the end of the world.

Now, with the stories being part of a shared universe and having seeded plot points in one that are designed to pay off in the future, or mapped out a few overarching story arcs, then I can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater in all cases. In those scenarios I’ll pick it up gently, wrap it in a towel, kick the bath over and let it drain away.

I digress.

In reality, I’ll keep the story on file and perhaps come back to it at some point. In the meantime, I’ve set myself deadlines so its off I go with something else.

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