Friday, August 03, 2012


Xylophone, my contemporary that deals with the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse, is finished and now under submission. And that means . . .

I've finally returned to Merman, the sequel to Mongrel. (I apologize to those of you who've been waiting for that sequel!)

This brings up an interesting aspect of the writer's life: how some of us can work on multiple stories simultaneously and some of us can't.

I'm in the latter group. My head needs to be in a particular place for each book, and I'm wary of what could be called cross-contamination. This might not be a factor if I stuck with one subgenre and consistently employed the same voice, but I don't. I'm a jumper. So in order to maintain a specific tone, and keep characters true to themselves, I have to concentrate on one piece of fiction at a time.

How I envy writers who have anywhere from two to five WIPs going at once. That obviously makes for greater productivity. If there's some WIP-juggling secret I'm not aware of, I'd love to hear it!  


Tam said...

Does it count as have more than one going at once if you stopped months ago because you lost interest? LOL I have several "in progress" but I can't do that either, work on one story in the morning and another in the afternoon. My voice tends to be kind of similar at this point (except for that long one - some day) but it does kind of cross-contaminate for me.

But yay for getting back to Mongrel. :-)

Right now I've got idea block. I have started 3 Halloween shorts for submission. Each one about 1000 words in I've scrapped. Suddenly it's too much like something I read, or the story fizzled, or I have no idea how to finish it. Ugh. I'm considering starting on #4, or maybe just powering through #3 and it will work. This is unusual for me, I can usually just pound out a short and it all flows. Bah. Or maybe I just need to make THIS my motto.

Val Kovalin said...

I'm with Tam -- yay for the Mongrel sequel! Plus, I'm interested in Xylophone.

As for multiple WIP, Stephen King has an approach in his book On Writing (if you haven't read this book, you're in for a treat.)

He says you have your main project that you clear the day for (or as much of the day as you can). Then you have your fun project that you noodle around with on the back burner later on that night.

The separation of writing times helps to shake off the influence of the first project. You have a block of time for the official project in the morning. Then you do your day-to-day responsibility stuff with your family, job, etc. Then you do your fun project for a shorter block of time at night.

Often, greater creativity is possible on the fun project because the official pressure isn't there. Eventually you finish the official project and send it off for publication, and the fun project becomes the new offical project, whereas you might find a new fun project.

I'm doing three WIPs (very inefficiently). With the two "fun projects", I mainly have conversations between the characters come up in my mind and I'll sort of transcribe them into the Word document, not really knowing what the scene order is.

Eventually motives and plots form. Meanwhile, I'm putting most of my time into the official thing that is closest to publication.

Eeek, long comment! Hope this helps. :)

K. Z. Snow said...

I sure can sympathize, Tam. I'd made the mistake of wobbling between both books at a time when I wasn't capable of pursuing even one. (Different circumstances from yours, though; I've been stalled in the doldrums for months.) It's still hard to get motivated most days.

But . . . I'm trying to "power through," as you put it. That works best for me -- just opening the file and tackling whatever part of it catches my interest. Sooner or later, it comes together.

You know, there's absolutely nothing wrong with consistency of voice if 1.) it's within a series, or 2.) a writer has a signature "tone" that readers are fond of. The biggest risk, of course, is that all of an author's MCs begin to seem interchangeable.

I was jarred by this just recently, when I read two stand-alone titles by the same author back-to-back. It was very disorienting, as if the narrator from the first read had jumped into the second. Even the POV was the same (first-person past), which really compounded the problem.

K. Z. Snow said...

Hiya, Val! How's life been treating you?

I've been meaning to read King's book for years. I know it's highly regarded.

I'm not sure his method would work for me, though. When I need a break from my WIP, I take it by writing or commenting on a blog post or maybe putting together a review for Goodreads. Only rarely do I feel like fooling around with a different story. Guess I'm a hopeless "immersionist" when it comes to fiction composition. ;-)