Having completed a polished, coherent draft of my second novel and e-mailed it off to my agent in N.Y., I’ve spent the last week or so catching up on reading colleagues’ drafts, tidying up my novella, and thinking about my next project.
While I wrote my first novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder, I came to like my P.I., Frank Swiver well enough that I wanted to stick with him beyond the one book. The second novel, Last Puffs, is not really a sequel, but a bit of a prequel about Frank, and a different case. And I have glimmerings of light in a long tunnel that will be my third novel. Trying to describe it here might be as goofy as Wm. Shakespeare telling about his idea for “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter.” But I’m going to try to flesh out my ideas over the next few months.
With that in mind, I downloaded Scrivener this week. In writing the first two books, I collected folders of research, printouts of web pages, maps, character sketches, glossaries of hard-boiled slang, and eventually, after the work was 2/3 done and I was losing control of things, outlines done after the fact. Scrivener, if I understand it correctly is going to enable me to gather all the materials I need in e-folders within the software.
The careful reader might infer from the above that since I don’t outline until after the fact, I don’t really know where I’m going when I sit down to write. I often have a general theme in mind, some characters I want to develop, and scenes I want to write. I try to get to know the characters, be true to them, and let them take it from there. Ah, but there are other theories. Some wags even suggest that in order to know where to go, you must first know where you want to end up. And so I’m planning to sign up for a Stanford U. class “Writing the Novel Back to Front.” Do I want to write back to front? Not particularly, but maybe it would benefit me to learn what this class has to offer.
So, in a nutshell, I’m going to be starting a new novel, a new software program, and a new class simultaneously. (What could possibly go wrong?) The only complication is I’m already signed up for three classes at Johns Hopkins School for Johns Hopkins School for OldFarts, starting the same week. Well, I think I can finesse it because I already have the Johns Hopkins syllabus, and I started the readings this week. And I’m going to begin figuring out the plot of my Romeo & Ethel story before Stanford starts.
It’ll be challenging, but I’ll be doing what I want so, I’m sure it will be fun.