Write like a Snake — by Pam Uphoff
*Pam is one of a few writers who will be taking a rotating slot amid the mad ones on Friday. And honest to purple unicorns, I’ll be doing a roster. Or perhaps bullying Amanda into doing one. (She’s just up from the flu, so I might get away with it. Briefly.) I should have got on it before, but February was not a good month for me. For viral infections, it was great, though*
Write like a Snake
No, not the one finger hunt-and-peck. I use three or four fingers, and sometimes even a thumb.
No, my writing is like a boa constrictor. A well fed one, with a long line of bumps from the plot bunnies he lives on. Yep, he refuses to be sensible and just have one big meal and finish digesting it before he eats again. No, Bo is a glutton.
See all those lumps of unfinished books? But look at him! He’s eyeing that nest of cheeping plot bunnies (OK, they’re imaginary. Plot bunnies can cheep, scream, and nag. They are carnivorous and well known to ambush innocent writers. Bo is doing the world a favor, eating them. Really.) This particular nest of plot bunnies is wiggling about enticingly cheeping “Write me next! Write me next!”
Bo is actually waffling a bit. Common sense at last!
See that first lump? It’s barely cleared his throat. It’s about a wedding whose participants haven’t even met yet (see lump number three.) I don’t even have a _problem_ for the story to be about, yet. Nothing resembling an outline and I have no idea where the story is going.
Lump number two isn’t quite so bad. It’s got an outline, it’s got a problem, it’s got a holy terror of a main character, who has decided she doesn’t want to talk to me.
Lump three is a Mystery. No, I know all about it. That’s the genre. It’s a murder mystery. At 50K words, it needs a fair amount of expansion. You know, things like the detective questioning people and such. The characters, however, have rushed onward to greater things (see lump #1 and two of the cheepers.)
Then there’s lumps four and five. They’re big lumps, mature manuscripts that have come home, unsold. Despite the size, they’re proving easy to digest.
Lump six is giving Bo indigestion. It may be two or three plot bunnies, swallowed all at once. I really don’t want to know what they were doing, that they could ever have been mistaken for a single story!
Lump seven is taking notes and thinking about doing a split as well.
Lumps eight and nine are two sequels to my YA Alice-in-Cyberland series. They’re duking it out over which one comes first. And they both insist that one of the manly men is ever-so-attractive, no matter how often or how firmly I repeat that there is going to be _no_ romance in the series, and certainly not with a man ten or more years Alice’s senior.
Lump ten is one of those ambush stories. It’s in the near (twelve years or so) future of my big series. It insisted on being written, but I’m really trying to publish in internal chronological order, so no progress toward actual publishing is allowed . . .
You know, Bo was a really bad metaphor to come up with. Because the finished product may have started out as plot bunnies, but even in my lowest moods I don’t think of my published work as snake poo.
But sometimes I think I need to figure out how to have fewer stories in process, with faster progress on each. Surely a single nest of tempting plot bunnies, a single book being written, a single finished draft being honed, and one in the final editing/copyediting/publishing shuffle is enough.
But so far this method works for me. I’ve just published the twelfth book in my multiverse SF/F crossover series, and have three YA novels out there as well. If I only counted the time since I started Indie publishing, it’d average out to one book every other month. But, of course, Bo started eating long before I started publishing.
But it’s long past time to put that snake on a diet . . .
Oh! Look! A Space Opera plottling! Isn’t it adorable? *CHOMP*
Sigh. And the above wasn’t anywhere near a complete list. But since we keep saying “Do it the way that works for you” I thought I’d toss my process in for your perusal. I think the danger of this approach is the risk of never finishing anything. You do have to pick one thing to concentrate on. Then when the words dry up, switch to editing, covers, devouring plot bunnies and so forth, but always getting back to the main work, and always progressing on the editing and publishing. The other ideas can live on an occasional quick note, or scene that just occurred to you, until a book is published and all those lumps shift forward.
My goal this year is one novel or collection published every other month. It’s doable, depending on the snake’s indigestion.