Obedience training for Muses (Or is that Musi). Doesn’t really matter, I only have one. So far as I know.

Mine is sneaky, hyperactive (except under the influence of antihistamines, decongestants, diet sodas, or extreme stress (when it disappears altogether)) not housebroken, and sure as heck won’t walk on a leash.

Which explains (excuses?) my current state of writing three stories concurrently (and roughly at the same time in internal series time) and one that takes place twenty years earlier.

I have explained to the Muse that that character doesn’t need a whole novella’s worth of backstory. It isn’t listening.


Sorry. Ahem.

It just that it would be very nice to finish the stories and publish them regularly before my fans forget about me, and stop checking to see if I’ve published something new . . .

Any how, today I’m going to talk about one of the problems with writing series.

You really need to abide by the rules and history in the stuff that’s already been published. And that’s a real pain when you have a Better Idea.

So writing a series, or, as I try to do, complete stories that fit in one book, but all in the same universe, and the whole series has some sort of direction . . . they have to agree with each other.

Although I have to admit, reading the ones I wrote twenty years ago, that the rules of the Universe have drifted a bit.

But right now, I have a goal—a bunch of worlds breaking away from a corrupt and dying empire to form a loose coalition with a much improved culture—that needs a lot of things to happen.

I need right thinking people to be in the right place at the right time to help complete strangers . . . and I really hate to have “and it just so happened that the aide who read the letter saw the potential and took it straight to the Councilman and argue vehemently . . .”

No, the aide needs to be a real person with a past that explains why he acted like this. Yeah, still a reach that he’s the one who got the letter, but . . .

And, well, there about four things that will all come together . . . eventually, I swear . . .

So I write the first story and get to a point where . . . I have to write this other story to explain the development of that technology . . . but they need help and perhaps a letter to a relative in a government . . . So I write about the aide . . . and they really are going to need those exotic weapons, so I need to . . .

I used to consider my writing methods chaotic. But they weren’t this bad.

But I think I can pull it out, or rather, pull it all together. In the end.

And I don’t think this disconnected babbling is going to be very helpful for you other writers. Other than to cause you to swear off writing series.

I’m actually feeling sympathy for some oft maligned “Isn’t he ever going to finish this series?” writers.

Don’t be a chicken . . .But take pity on yourself and  keep it a little simpler. Don’t tangle too many threads. And try to obey the “Rules of the Universe.”

20 thoughts on “Wanted

  1. I’m slogging away on the WIP right now and feeling bad because I’m not making progress – only 3k-4K words a day (so much for vacation). But I’m having to do a LOT of cross referencing of sources for this one. And the main character is trying hard to be invisible, at least outside of his guild, for a year and a day. I need to get this thing done, the Muse is pushing me.

    Meanwhile, I’ve got two stories based on rock songs or albums that are bouncing up and down demanding to be written, and some Familiars stuff that wants to plot itself in my head instead of waiting politely. Arrrrrrr [gasp]rrrrrrrrrrrgh!

    1. You have my sympathy.

      On top of the ADD Muse, I’m trying to get through oak tree pollen season without drugging myself into writing shut down. So I’m short of sleep and probably incoherant.

    2. I once read a meme about making a story based on a song, with the only rule being that every single line had to be represented.

      I started to ponder what that would mean if the lines were repeated.

  2. My characters refuse to do anything but lounge around and have kissy face. I’ve talked to them about it, and they just laugh.

    So I’ve arranged an invasion for them to deal with. They’re still trying to lounge around, but at least they’re doing it on the bridge of a spaceship with the drive output of a solar prominence. ~:D

  3. After my first two series reached a planned end at 4 books (and I wasn’t very happy with stopping but there I was, storywise), I embraced the whole open-ended series thing, using Cherryh (more) and Bujold (some) as example models.

    I couldn’t be happier about it. And since I gritted my teeth and refused to release until book 3 was finished and book 4 started (to give them a kickstart (I hope)), I have an adequate amount of time to really sink into the world I’m building and its characters. As I work on book 3, I’m still making setup refinements to the book 1 & 2 drafts, but less and less — earning confidence about just how I’ll manage later entries once the first ones are out and unchangeable. It’s a great comfort to feel like I have a much less flimsy world & cast to be moving along with.

    My subconscious is now purring like a well-fed cat and churning out what-ifs about back connections, complications, useful potential details, and so forth, unhampered by the “but where would I put that?” problem of no place that fits cuz it’s not real enough. No doubt there will still be a certain amount of jerry-rigging to come, but it feels so much better than while I was writing books 1 & 2.

  4. You’re misunderstanding the muse/writer relationship. It’s not you who are supposed to be looking for obedience training for the muse, it’s the muse who is looking for obedience training for you. She, a goddess of creativity, has been gifting you, a mere mortal, with all of these wonderful story ideas, and you, the ungrateful brat, have been doing things other than sitting at your computer and pouring her brilliant ideas into your word processor. Why, I’ve heard rumors that you insist on sleeping every single night and pausing in your writing long enough to eat multiple times each day! Is it any wonder that she’s at her wits end with you?

    And, off topic, but can anyone tell me how long I should wait after sending a query for an anthology if I haven’t heard a response? And how I should go about poking them?

    1. No idea on the last. I just assume that if I didn’t hear back, they didn’t want whatever it was. Sort of like job applications – “don’t e-mail us, we’ll e-mail you.” But that’s just me. (I did check a story I’d submitted to make sure I had included something. I did, but I didn’t get word that it was accepted, so I suspect the publisher was overloaded with submissions and I didn’t make the cut.)

  5. Yep, muses can be irritating sometimes. There I was, happily plugging along on Book 3 when an idea for a short story that would fit in Raconteur Press’ next Malta anthology pops up. And uh-oh, I’ve only got until the end of March to get it done! Oh no, whatever shall I do??? 🙂

  6. I was young still when I insisted the muse start with a really, really, really rough first draft, also known as an outline. It did cut down on the half-finished stories. (Half-finished outlines are less annoying.)

    Lately, I’ve found the muse can’t be relied on to give shape to the middle of the story, so sometimes I’ve had to haul out a beat sheet.

    1. If I outline the whole story, the Muse smiles “What a nice way to end the story! What’s the next story?” And i can’t seem to write it. At all.

      So I have a starting chapter or two, think of a possible end point, and _then_ the Muse will happily fill in all the rest, fully expecting me to change the ending if it no longer fits the middle.

      It’s ridiculous to be at the mercy of one’s own subconscious!

  7. With regard to the aid just happening to be the one to get the letter, maybe that Councilman in question only has one aid because he doesn’t trust anyone else to not have ulterior motives? Would then also give a reason for why the Councilman would listen to the arguments of the aide in the first place.

    1. That’s not the problem, it just having the perfect aide just pop out of nowhere, Just. Won’t. Do. Once I write his back story, THEN it’s fine. *Sigh*


    This is a valid distancing tactic that is of incomparable worth when it comes to managing mental health by providing space with which to deal.

    It’s also amusing as heck. ^.^

  9. This artist has a really cute idea of a “doodle fairy” that is similar to the personification of a muse thing, he lays it out in the responses to the retweet:

    (OK it’s a gratuitous plug for AAAH REALLY CUTE DRAWINGS!!!!)

    1. Aww! Soooo Cuuuuuuttttteeeee!

      Unfortunately my Muse is more of the battle ax sort. She does not flutter, and I suspect that she’s heavily armed.

Comments are closed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: