I suppose I should clarify that headline. For, I suspect, most professional writers, the definition of projects has different meanings. For some, every writing deliverable is a project. For others, like myself, novels are pretty much all I consider to be my writing projects. Short stories and novelettes aren’t projects, they’re jobs.
Right now, I find myself between the projects Paladin’s Light that I’m co-authoring with Marc Alan Edelheit and Seeds of Dominion, the first of what will be many projects I write in the Eldros Legacy IP (Intellectual Property). What that means is that I’m trying to get caught up on home projects as well as some short story commitments.
In the midst of all my writing deliverables, I’ve been trying to maintain my vegetable garden (it’s been hot and dry here recently) as well as do some cooking and canning here at home. With mostly vegetables out of my garden, Vicki and I just put up a bunch of really good salsa. This past weekend, it was chile verde days (one day to cook and one day to can). There’s always something that needs doing.
On top of that, I have to sign a contract for a short story I finished about a month ago for Kevin Steverson’s Salvage Title universe. I just turned in an Eldros Legacy novelette for the second of two Talons and Talisman anthologies that will be coming out from New Mythology press, and that second will have nothing but Eldros Legacy shorts and novelettes in it. I’ve also already started work on a sci-fi novelette for Jamie Ibson that will appear in an upcoming Chris Kennedy Press anthology.
And once that’s done, it’s on to the real project of Seeds of Dominion. I’ve had the outline done since about April of this year (I have several outlines laying in wait), but it won’t be until I get these novelettes done that I can really dig in to the project of Seeds of Dominion.
So, what’s the difference?
A short story or a novelette usually doesn’t require an outline. It doesn’t need a lot of planning or preparation. It also doesn’t need nearly as much time, for obvious reasons. For me, the novelettes, especially for the CKP imprints, have usually run between 10,000 and 15,000 words. My process is to set aside usually about two weeks (sometimes less and sometimes more), to sit down and balance between the daily grind stuff like emails and FaceBook with cranking out the story. Keep in mind that, thanks to Marc Edelheit, I go back through a story at least three times, refining and polishing more and more with each pass. That makes a novelette a full-time effort for those two weeks.
A novel is an entirely different animal.
I’ll spend a month, on and off, creating the outline. This is where I lay down the foundation, identify the plot points for the meta story (if there is one), the main story, and any side stories that need to be written. I also layer in any of the “seeds” I need to plant for jokes, gags, reveals, reversals, and denouements that need to be written.
Lately, I’ve left those completed (or mostly so) outlines to sit for some time. Then, when I’m ready to sit down and start writing the novel, I go back through the outline and make any adjustments I think are necessary. This puts the whole thing in my head. At that point, it’s time to write, and to write a novel, I’m looking at anywhere between 30 and 90 days until I write The End and may my additional two passes during the editing and revision phase.
I should add that there are times when I’ll work on a novel and a novelette or even two novels at the same time. This is rare, but deadlines are deadlines, and I rarely miss them. I have found that sometimes I need to get away from one project or story just to clear my head. Working on something else is a good way to do that. Another good way is to get on my motorcycle and take off for a couple hours, but that’s a different post.
There’s always another project or story to work on, and I have a writing schedule that mapped out (albeit loosely) for the next year at least. Wordcount is up, and FaceBook time is way down.
Regardless, the time between projects is still, pretty much, just more writing time… either that or decompression. I’ll keep cranking the words so long as y’all keep reading them.