The November Project

“Androidgynous,” the tale of a genuinely sexy robot.

I’m torn. Some of you may have heard of NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. It runs for 30 days in November of each year. Well, I’ve done it a few times, and it’s no big deal at this point. In fact, it’s a little asinine in that the objective is to write a 50,000-word “novel” but most participants write neither. Even if they did, 50,000 words does not a novel make. In any case, the only real “prize” for “winning” is knowing you did it and feeling superior to the cretin who failed like the losers they are.

Ahem. Sorry.

Even so, I’ve found it a good stimulus to continue to write. I always write something in the summer and start or finish a major project in November. This year, I can’t decide what my next project should be. I’ve begun writing short stories toward my next anthology, the working title of which is Dark City Stories. I have 3 written, 1of which I really like , and a  second story is underway.

So, for November, I can either continue working on my short stories, and try to crank out 50,000 words (143 pages) worth, or I can start work on my long-delayed detective novel, Jeanne Dark. I chose the name Dark City Stories as I’ve considered starting Jeanne out as a novelette in the collection. (It would be her second story.)

For the short story collection, I already have a number of ideas:

  • “30 July 3013” – Life in the city.
  • “321 Hell Street, Apt 7” – There is a darkness in the penthouse apartment of an old building populated by a diverse group of city dwellers. Rumors are its been there forever. But now it wants to leave.
  • “A Girl Named Serenity Sea” – This is a fun and lyrical tale of a very unusual woman, and the complement to the novelette I completed named “Holy Mother of Selina Sky” (my favorite short story to date. It will be one of the first short stories ever penned that is based to a large extent on internet memes, with a real story wrapped around it.

    “If you ever feel as though you’re stuck behind the looking glass, the only logical thing to do is to build yourself an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ room”
  • “Beyonder” – A tale of a wise and worldy elephant
  • “The Girl Who Wore Shoes” – this is the tale of a young woman who wore shoes, but nothing else.
  • “The Nebula that Awoke”
  • “Umbrella Girl” – This one is a surprise … to me.

For the most part, instead of written ideas, I’m plotting the stories initially purely visually, using images as prompts. Those interested can check out my Pinterest collection. I also have some other ideas that I came up with traditionally: a sensual love story that takes place in a large city on another world, the love story of two people who discover they live in non-linear time, and an urban tale of gang life in the distant future. While writing short stories is satisfying, I find it more draining than books, because each “chapter” is a separate book. All the ideas have to be fresh.

It’s damned hard to come up with ideas. Even then, sometimes translating them into coherent stories takes real work. “Selina Sky” was the hardest thing I ever wrote.

My other choice is starting Jeanne Dark. I’ve previously written about her character, more than once. I recall writing that I cannot begin the novel until I’ve finished it in my head. I’m almost finished. I even have her car, which I’ve personalized. I’ve had her in my head since March 2012. She’s a collection of unique traits, with the skill of a Sherlock Holmes but none of the personality. She’s a synesthete, for one thing. I wasn’t sure what I was waiting on, until very recently, when I met the real-life version of my Jeanne. She’s so much like my character it’s scary.

So, I can also begin writing Jeanne, except for one thing: I have NO IDEA what mystery she needs to tackle. What’s something fresh that’s not been over-explored? Don’t know.

What do you guys think? If you were me, what would you tackle, the short stories, or begin work on Jeanne Dark? The good news with Jeanne is that I already have the cover art done. 🙂

22 thoughts on “The November Project

  1. amysomday says:

    I love how you do not seem to have the frustration level with your short stories like you do with a novel. I am about 1/2 way done with Roxx and though I love it I think back to your struggles of getting it edited…Your passion as a writer should be freeing :). The whole process in fact. Just my opinion.

    1. Bill Jones, Jr. says:

      Thanks, Amy. The writing process is freeing, but the publication process is all business. 🙂 Short Stories are a lot easier to edit, and since there’s only 1 plot line, they take less thought to make cohesive.

      That said, they’re less rewarding at the end, since I think people have begun to lose their appreciation for the art. People who like my short stories are my favorite readers.

  2. ontyrepassages says:

    I agree completely that short stories are more difficult and draining that working on chapters. For that reason I work on my novel and keep short stories as a sideline. I also don’t thus far possess the ability to generate short story ideas the way you can. You have my sincere admiration for having that trait. One nice aspect to short stories is that they more quickly generate the satisfaction that comes with completion. Still, at least for now, I’m still a novel kind of girl. Being biased I’m not a good one to make a suggestion. That’s interesting that you met a character…has never happened to me. I’ve seen pictures of people who looked just like what I envision, but never have I met them.

    1. Bill Jones, Jr. says:

      I initially found writing short stories simpler, but it seems to take waaaaaaay more work to figure out what the little story is about. I’ve also learned that the more you write, the harder it gets. I story that takes me 3 days to write may take 3 months to plot out. The last one I wrote was a struggle: it took weeks and 3 draft to get it out.

      This is my 1st time meeting a character too. It is both odd and inspiring, especially when she turns out to be your muse.

  3. ericaatje says:

    I would have to say, finish the Jeanne Dark novel, because I loved reading it in ‘The Juice and other Stories’. Start writing and you will come up with an idea to tackle that one mystery that was in your head already but you didn’t know it was there. Do I make any sense???
    Just do what you think is best.

    1. Bill Jones, Jr. says:

      You always make perfect sense. That may be what I need to do: instead of trying to think up the story, just begin writing and let her tell me, or discover it when she does.

      In fact, she should probably start out on vacation.

  4. mariatothecore says:

    I think you should start the Jeanne Dark novel. If I can help you then you know I will. It seems to me that you know her very well already, so all you have to do is ask her where you should begin, and I mean ask Jeanne directly. You should continue as you started and allow the story to speak to you from that other place. La Jeanne es una expresión de nos dos. Déjala que te inspiréis.

    1. Bill Jones, Jr. says:

      “… Una expresión de nos dos.” Me gusta mucho.

      You can help a lot. She’s like a character I’ve met, but don’t completely understand, except at an intuitive level. I think I’ll just start writing it and let the mystery come later. I want it to be more than just a murder or missing person – something that would use and test her gifts.

      Seems like it should involve rooting out someone dangerous from a field of seemingly innocuous people. I need to ask Jeanne, “At what are you most gifted?”

      Foss won’t help. He’s her Dr. Watson, except for being attracted to his Sherlock.

      1. mariatothecore says:

        If I were Jeanne, and you’d asked me, I would say that I am most gifted at seeing people for who they truly are, no matter how they might appear, and that my radar for danger is very strong. I can also locate people and things just by focussing on them and allowing my body to direct me.

        1. Bill Jones, Jr. says:

          Tú eres mi Jeanne. 🙂 I was actually thinking of something like that. She’s chasing someone, perhaps a person who hurt someone, but there are few clues. Ah, the story is coming …

          If I allow my body to direct me, I’ll end up in bed somewhere. Hmm, did I mention that her partner was the 1st character I ever based on me? Foss has an ability to detect and attract mental illness. All kinds of crazy people talk to me.

          Now I have to figure out if it’s a 1st-person or 3rd-person book. I’m toying with two 1st-person POV, Jeanne’s and Foss’s.

          1. mariatothecore says:

            I love writing in the first person, it comes a lot more easily than the third. But two POVs sounds like a great idea, and an interesting challenge. I think you can achieve a greater connection in some ways with your readers through the 1st person, especially in this case as Jeanne bases so much on intuition. You can really play with that from a POV more so than from an impartial perspective.
            You could even switch between the two, 1st and 3rd, as long as you keep strict guidelines as to when you use them.

            1. Bill Jones, Jr. says:

              That’s a good point. I once read a book that used both. First person is easier for me to write. I only end up wondering if I make all the narrators different. I guess this would be one way to ensure that’s not the case. How Jeanne operates is a big a mystery to Foss, so it would be interesting to see her work and then later to understand how she does what she does.

              I did write some short stories as 1st person POV women in order to practice. It also allows me to imperil a character and have the reader wonder if they will actually die, since I have a “backup” narrator.

            2. mariatothecore says:

              Yes exactly so. We switch from 1st to 3rd person POV all the time when we relate narratives in day to day conversations. It adds dynamism I think, and not too much of a stretch for readers to keep up.

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