Picking My Next Project

Earlier this week, I finished the current draft of the project I’d been working on since last February(!) It ended up being around 90,000 words (though I’d cut it down from around 110,000). (Doing a bit of math, that’s 347 writing days since I started the project. At 1,000 words/day, I should have gotten 347,000 words written. There was a lot more start/stop/start/stop to this project than I would have liked.)

In any case, that leaves me in the spot of “what do I write next?”

In many ways, it feels a lot like how I feel when I’m trying to pick a movie to watch. I’ve had several ideas, and I’ve been keeping track of them as they come to me, but nothing’s really striking me at the moment. It’s almost definitely going to be another historical thriller, but something’s going to have to resonate with me before I dive in. I spent so many years as a writer writing in different genres and different topics, to have written three books in the same genre in a row feels very odd. Looking at writing a fourth in it? My first thought was, “How in the world can I write anything different than what I’ve already done?”

Which is silly, of course. I mean, look at any number of television murder mystery series out there. They churn out mystery after mystery, week after week. Are the mysteries similar? Well, yes. Sort of. The difference is the characters involved and the specifics for each one. Writing another book that draws on the same sort of themes I’ve already been dealing with isn’t bad. It’s a good way of building a following. But it’s an approach that I don’t have a ton of experience with, and so there’s a learning curve involved.

What am I trying out right now? The same thing I did when coming up with the ideas for my finished project and Don’t Go to Sleep before that: reading a lot of old newspaper articles. Doing web searches for interesting murder cases. I’ve had a few things pop up already, but nothing that’s really felt like a perfect fit. Once I have a number of ideas, I’ll pass those on to my editor to see what she thinks of them. If any of them click, then I’ll move on to plotting. Otherwise, it’s rinse and repeat at the idea factory.

I’m on the hunt for a real life crime (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a murder) to build a story around. I don’t want it too recent (because I don’t like writing about people who are still alive), but I’ve also discovered that writing books too far back in time become progressively more difficult, though I wonder if this would be the case if I went even further back. The things that always hangs me up is technological advances. When did a certain invention come out? How familiar or common would it be? That kind of thing. Go back far enough, and the speed of inventions and developments plummets.

Anyway, that’s where my writing time is focused at the moment. Wish me luck.


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