Ramp Up Starts...Now

MCMSunday, April 18, 2021

I almost never start a year without a Really Bad Idea to pursue, but this year — between covid and gallbladder fun and just a general sense of blargh — I have been putting it off. There are some things that are almost-but-not-quite in the works, and I didn't want to jinx anything... but yeah, it's time to formulate a plan.

2021 will, I think, have a few moving parts, but the primary theme will be this: all experimental, all the time. I really enjoyed things when I was trying strange new methodologies and wring postmortems once a month, so I intend to try that again.

So here is my smorgasbord of options, from which I will pick some crazy:

  • Utopian Hit Squad needs to be released this year, because I've been sitting on it for far too long. Since this one is done, my experiment will have to be something to do with marketing. Something longer-term with a late summer launch date, maybe? I'm not sure. Must ponder.

  • Shell Game would be a month-long livewritten spy thriller project, with a twist: it would work like an RPG, where the characters' key decisions would be chosen by the audience — with their success rate determined by the distribution of votes. It's about a team of spies fighting terror plot that's playing out on three continents at once, with no one certain where the real threat lies.

  • One Loves would be another month-long project, but not livewritten so much as audience-influenced. Surveys would go up (and stay up) to shape the upcoming chapters, but they would be written and released without direct input. This one is a romance with a twist, and probably one of my favourite projects in recent years. I can't even describe the premise without giving too much away.

  • Goodnight Kiss would be a much more basic romance novel that would last, again, a month. It would be a Prism project, so you'd be able to define the characters however you like. The protagonist is on a mission to kill a shady billionaire for very good reasons, only to get tangled up in a spidering set of lies that could cost them everything.

  • Jacked can and should be turned into a book, and have a crazy idea to make it more interesting: I'll write the book as scenes — chronological or not — and then, at the end of each scene there will be a "what comes next?" question where you get 2-3 choices to continue on, do a flashback or a flashforward. As people make their choices, the list will rearrange itself to promote the most popular answer — until it reaches a certain threshold of adoption, at which point the choice will disappear and the top choice will become the choice permanently. Jacked is a thriller where information is both plentiful and confusing, so this fits perfectly.

  • Oki and Nobbin 2 has been bubbling up in my brain a lot recently, and I'm inclined to make it my NaNo this November — but with a proper livewriting system in place to let it really sing. The big change this time would be micro-chapters written throughout the day, with users randomly assigned one of the slots to influence, so you can only mess up 1/3 of the story at a time.

Of course, Oki and Nobbin 2 being on that list suggests Oki and Nobbin 1 will be edited and out, which brings me to the second part of my Great Challenge for 2021: I really need to clear my To Be Edited pile. Some of those suckers have been there for years, and make me feel bad every time I think about 'em. The list of likely candidates looks like:

  • Bytown, depending on the results of this current round of shenanigans. If they go nowhere, I would put this at the top of the list for a burst of editing in anticipation of a fall release of all 3 volumes.
  • Oki and Nobbin needs a heavy revision after 2019's NaNo, but I know exactly what to do, so it shouldn't be too hard.
  • Arkady and Kain really needs to be finished. It's about halfway through revisions, but the last half is a doozy. If I could fix that one up, I would be so happy.
  • Polarity needs fixin' if I'm ever going to be able to write the third book to the Dustrunners saga. Though to be honest, this one is the least likely to happen. My brain is just not that strong :)

How realistic is it to plan to write and/or edit 6-10 80,000-word experimental novels in roughly 8 months, in between ghostwriting, TV writing, web developing and the occasional nap? Possssssibly not very realistic, no.

So I need to narrow my list, focus my attention, and hopefully not die.

It's gonna be an interesting year, that's for sure.


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