Firespinner Afterwords: Roy Harper and The Gospel of Earth

We’ve reached the end of another tale, one I truly enjoyed writing and I hope you enjoyed reading! As always, here are a few closing thoughts. 

As of late I’ve been exploring points of view in my fiction. This wasn’t intentional, it largely came about accidentally as I worked on the Triad World novels, themselves a kind of flash of inspiration that turned into a much larger project than I had expected. However, as I worked on Schrodinger’s Book and Martian Scriptures I found that my desire to use points of view to comment on each other was growing. This theme kind of made it into my comic project, Hexwood: Dust and Ashes, in the way the modern and traditional takes on magic fought a war over different visions of the future. However that story proved to be a bad forum for that discussion – comics don’t handle nuanced philosophical differences very well – and most of that debate got cut out. 

Then I decided to write the novella Firespinner  to run concurrent to Hexwood’s crowd funding campaign. Several missteps took place in that process but one thing that did happen, without my really intending it to, was that many of the themes cut from Hexwood started to appear as hints and suggestions in Firespinner. As I worked on that story, several new ways to approach those points of view, in both plot elements and narrative techniques, occurred to me. At this point I have ideas for several more stories focused on Roy Harper that I want to work on in the near future. 

I also want to write a third, and probably final, Triad Worlds novel, The Gospel According to Earth, which will wrap up several of the major outstanding plot threads of the first two and put something of bow on the whole project. While I have some ideas what Gospel will be about, along with some ideas of what will drive the conflict and characters of the story, many, many of the particulars are foggy and I’m not confident I can execute on all of the characters correctly. I also have a short list of short stories I’d like to write at some point, but none of them tickle my fancy right now. 

So while I work to sort out The Gospel According to Earth I’ve decided to continue with Roy’s story. I’m currently working on Night Train to Hardwick, a direct sequel to Firespinner. Since a lot of the flavor of Roy’s world is already built Hardwick is a story that will let me move some of the time I would normally spend on world building and establishing a setting over to doing those things for Gospel. I’m sure long time readers and new readers alike are wondering if stories featuring Roy have an overarching arc or are designed to stand alone. The answer is a little bit of both. 

The Roy Harper Adventures (for lack of a better name) represent my making a foray into pulp formatting, creating a series of lighter, fast paced adventure stories with recurring themes and characters that one can pick up and put down in pretty much any order and still enjoy. Yes, there will be a chronological order to these tales, and sticklers can certainly go to the beginning and read them in order, but my hope is that the common threads will only serve to offer small payoffs and satisfaction for long time readers. They are not going to build in the same way the chapters of a book or the books in a tightly written series would. Hopefully that fits with your expectations, dear reader, because as I’ve written in this style I’ve found that I like it very much. 

As is my wont, I’ll be taking a week off now that Firespinner is done, then there will be a month of essays between installments of fiction. After that month is over we’ll move on to Night Train to Hardwick and the further adventures of everyone’s favorite pyrokinetic Westerner. See you in two weeks! 

The Long and Short of It (Where It is Writing)

One of the many things I’m currently juggling is completing the outline for Water Fall. It’s actually mostly finished, but my method of outlining has it’s own idiosyncrasies, which will undoubtedly be the subject of their own post some day soon. But today’s subject is more straightforward: Length. 

When you sit down with an eighty to hundred point beat outline in front of you the thought that you’re going to try and turn all that into a fully fleshed out novel/script/screenplay/whatever can be more than a little daunting. Water Fall is my third crack at writing a novel and the scope of the project is still intimidating, doubly so because it has to keep in mind, expand on and complete things started in Heat Wave. It’s a lot to keep in the air and I have a feeling that I’m going to wind up doing a lot more correcting and rewriting, just in the first draft, than I had to do with Heat Wave. That’s not a bad thing, but it can sometimes be overwhelming. 

But there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction when a long project is finished, and you can sit back (for about ten seconds, at least) and say, “Yes! I have accomplished something.” 

On the other hand, you might expect short stories to be much simpler to write. You just sit down and toss off a couple of thousand words and make sure you don’t contradict yourself in that short span of time, right? 

Well, not so much. For one thing, keeping a short story short is more difficult than it might seem at first glance. Two of the short stories I planned for this summer wound up far exceeding the length I expected of them – both #63 and Shadows and Brightmoor were supposed to be one installment. However, I really don’t want to publish anything too much over 5000 words in a single post, not only because I don’t want to overload people with the Wall of Text o’ Doom but because I simply cannot write that much, plus two other posts for a week, and get it out in good time with good quality. 

For another thing, short stories have little to no time to be leisurely. You can’t putter around when introducing your characters, setting or conflict. Things have to go from minute one or you’re going to wind up with a novella rather than a short story. Finding places to squeeze in all the detail you might want (or need) in your story can be daunting. 

Somewhere in the middle of that is the novella. I might try writing one of those sometime soon, but currently have no plans to work on one before the end of Water Fall sometime next year. But I suspect if you were to try it you’d find it to be somewhere between full novel and short story – just long enough to be intimidating, but short enough that you’ll still feel pressed for space. Fun, no? 

Writing is the use of words. You have to know them, use them sparingly and with maximum impact and keep with them until the job is done. No matter what the scope of your story, your building blocks are the same. There’s a saying among management circles at the library where I work: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” 

The same is true of all stories: They’re written one word a time. 

Keep that in mind, love your words and no matter what kind of story you’re working on, at least the work will be a joy.