My latest short story "The Night the Lights Came On"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

On To The Next Book, A Prequel

I got a message this morning on Facebook from a friend and beta reader of my novel. She had heard I was thinking of changing my main character from the 40ish year old father of the family to his two boys. I thought this might be a good change because my book seems like a Young Adult novel. The length of it, at 71 thousand words, is definitely more of a YA length for a book than a normal science fiction novel for adults. She had a suggestion that maybe I should make the pilot of the spaceship the family hires the main character. I thought it was brilliant. Let me explain why it will work so well. I already had an idea for a prequel novel to this one, but I wasn't so sure about it because that pilot character would be the main character. It will tell his coming of age story and how he got to where he is in this novel. Also, many beta readers have expressed to me that they like the pilot character the most and feel that he is the most fleshed out of all the characters. So I have a new main character, and a great reason to write the prequel novel to this one! I'm excited! I think I might even write it next instead of my apocalyptic novel that I work shopped on The Roundtable Podcast. It would be amazing to be able to publish two books in a short amount of time. Either way - what I really need to do at this early stage in my writing career is to write more novels. 

I recently watched a video of Brandon Sanderson speaking to a novel writing class. I put it below this paragraph if you want to check it out - and I recommend you do. If you haven't heard of Brandon Sanderson he has some amazing epic fantasy novels, and he's the one who was chosen to finish Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time Series. He's kind of a big deal ;) He was sharing that he knows a lot of people say you should learn to write by writing short stories, because those were the markets to break into back in the day, but now it's not as much the case. If you want to write novels you should be writing novels because they are a different animal to tackle than short stories.

This was so refreshing and freeing to hear for me! I love writing short stories but what I really want with my writing is to get good at writing full length novels. He asks the class if many of them read short stories and all but three students had a subscription to a short story magazine. Most people read novels. I must admit that I never read short stories until I became serious about writing. I love reading novels, and I mostly want to write them. I still love writing short stories and will continue to write them as ideas for them come to mind, I'm writing one now, but I always had this notion in the back of my mind that maybe I should stop writing novels and wait until I've written hundreds of short stories and really learned my craft before I write any more novels. Brandon Sanderson says that this isn't the case and I'm so glad to hear it. I've written three books long enough to be called novels, one novella, and a novelette - the point is I need to write many more novels because I have a lot to learn. Brandon's first published novel, Elantris, was actually his sixth novel! The man put in his dues and learned by doing,. This is especially true because he writes epic fantasy and his novels are massively long. Six of my novels would probably equal two of his in word count, so he really learned by doing! Six novels before he writes one that gets picked up. This may sound crazy but it is actually pretty common.

I'm glad I watched that video because I feel like it has freed me to say it's okay to go ahead and keep writing novels even if I feel like I don't quite know what I'm doing yet and that I have a lot to learn. The best way for me to learn is to write more books! So I am going to leave this novel where it is and write it's prequel. That way I can get the distance from it I'll need to overhaul it with a new main character. Once I finish the first draft of its prequel I'll come back to it and work it over until it sings! Now to get the outline of that prequel knocked out! I'm excited! I'm charging forward. Next novel! Let's do this! Go write! Oh, and thanks for stopping by :)

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