In my post about My New Year’s Resolutions for 2016, I touched briefly on what I hope to accomplish with regards to writing this year: to write one full novel and 12 short stories (one per month). As I’ve never talked writing on Ink, Keys, and Other Things before, I thought I’d introduce my major work-in-progress. I don’t intend to go into too much detail about my novel yet, but share some of what I have gotten done so far.
The novel I am writing is a YA steampunk fantasy set in a time period similar to the U.S. in the early twentieth century. But the world is a steampunk alternative universe in which magic abounds. The main character is a thirteen-year-old girl (let’s call her Jane) who becomes an important piece of a complicated puzzle to restore peace in her country. The world I imagine as kind of a mix between that of InuYasha and Howl’s Moving Castle. I see elements of a lot of different books and films in the rough plot I have established, but I’m hoping as I begin to write it that I’m able to craft a story that feels entirely my own.
There are a lot of moving parts in my story and world, parts that I see myself expanding in future books, as I would like this novel to be the first in a series. I’ve often worried about scope as a person who identifies perpetually as a writing n00b, but I’m trying not be daunted by the process. I keep telling myself that all the extra seeds of possibilities are important to keep the writing fun.
The hardest thing I find about writing is the part where I sit down and actually start writing. I can think of every possible reason to avoid actually writing. Whether it be homework or chores, or simply the fact that my eyes are tired and I’d rather go to sleep and start writing after I’ve woken up. I realize this is a problem having to do with discipline, so I’m going to try and set myself achievable goals for the semester to help me write a decent first draft of my novel before the end of the year.
My major goal is to write 500 words per day at minimum. I feel like I need to have a word count goal for the day to just to have something tangible to meet and appraise whether I’ve spend a commendable amount of time thinking about my story. It is also a good word count to meet because I don’t want to feel obligated to write too many words I hate just for the sake of getting an arbitrary number of words on the page.
Another goal for myself is to not worry that I’m writing complete and utter crap. I have real fear that I am not good enough to write my own novels. I feel confident in my ability to critique other’s work, but when it comes to producing something myself, I’m paralyzed with self-doubt. I realize that it’s impossible to write a perfect first draft and getting started is often the hardest part to doing anything worth doing, but I still struggle.
Right now, I have very clear idea of the major story arc of this novel and some idea of smaller subplots and other significant plot points I want to include. So I’m just going to try and throw myself into the deep end and sink or swim, hopefully swim.
I’ll be writing in a single Word document for the time being, possibly jumping around as I follow my interests. Once I have most of the story written, I’ll start to make a table of contents with internal links to chapters I have mostly set in stone. I’m not sure how long this will take. Hopefully by summer I’ll be able to jump into revising.
The Short Stories
My idea is for the short stories to be fairytales, myths, and legends from the world in which my novel is set. I’ve been loving novels set in worlds with rich origin stories (like in The Queen of the Tearling and Throne of Glass series) so I imagine these short stories might eventually become important parts of the overall story in future novels. But even if they don’t, I like to think they’ll at least help me have a frame of mind as I write.
If at all possible, I might try and see if I can get some of my short stories published. I think it’d be a cool way to get my foot in the door of publishing and potentially build anticipation for an eventual novel. So hopefully I’ll be able to edit these stories well enough so that they are satisfying stand-alone pieces.