A Note on Novel Nomenclature
So, I’ve written in the past about “the novel that I’ve been working on since forever” (and also often used the term “blather” when referring to it) and I’ve mentioned the new novel that I intend to start writing (just as soon as I have time to write).
I’ve come to find these long descriptive phrases to be unwieldy. And, from the perspective of you, the reader, they’re not entirely useful or meaningful. Because those long, unwieldy descriptions don’t tell you anything about the book itself but instead tell you about my temporal relationship with the book.
This ends now. Inasmuch as I may continue to refer to either or both of these books – or even inasmuch as I might refer to any of my writing projects – I intend to start referring to those works and projects either by their titles (in the fullness of time) or by code-titles (in the beginning). Eventually, therefore, I may be able to add word count meters and write in blog posts about my various projects and what I’m doing in them, and it will be easier to you, the reader, to understand what I mean rather than having to parse some long-and-not-altogether-useful-phrase like “that novel that I’ve been working on since forever”.
So, let’s get started.
Project SOA#1: This is the novel that I’ve been writing since forever. I chronicled my history with this novel, and why I call it “the novel that I’ve been writing since forever”, here, here and here. It’s an epic fantasy in the most epic way – and as you can guess based on my code-name, it’s intended to be the first in a series. But, it’s also the most classical of my fantasy novel ideas, the most bog-standard. Perhaps, even, the most unoriginal, at least in its most recent form. And yet, it’s highly personal to me, and therefore I still want to make this novel happen. And if I can pull it off, it will be something more than just “epic fantasy” – it will belong to a genre to which few other works can truly be said to belong to, which is a subject for another day. But it will take a writer with more skill than I currently possess to pull it off, and so I’ve moved it to the back-burner to await that time when I have honed the skills I will need to do it justice.
The Book of M: Called thus because the letter “M” features prominently in the actual working title of the book, i.e. “M” would be capitalized and word-initial. This is the new novel I’ll be working on as time eventually allows. It is not your grandpappy’s epic fantasy. I’m not even sure it is epic fantasy – but it’s definitely a flavor of fantasy of some kind. It might also be Steampunk, but I’m not entirely positive whether it is… It is definitely dystopian. If I can pull it off, it is also goodness. Think Mad Max meets the Final Fantasy video game series meets something-else-that-escapes-me meets my brain. In short, it should rock.
The Book of M is intended to be a stand-alone fantasy novel (i.e. not the first of a series), but since I don’t know yet exactly how it will end, I can’t say that with any level of certainty.
And what else is on my brain, besides these two books?
The Book of J: Another novel concept that I received in a dream. Yes, really. I dreamed the plot to this book. The letter “J” features prominently in the concept-title of this one, as does the letter “M”, but I already had a “Book of M” in my code-names, so “J” it is. This is another “not-your-grandpappy’s epic fantasy” story. It does feature a Hero’s Journey motif, but it’s not in the style you’re familiar with. And it’s positively loaded with shades-of-gray and nuance. More pointedly, for a fantasy novel, I haven’t yet decided if (and if so to what degree) magic will be used in this story. There probably will be magic in some form or fashion, but so far it hasn’t figured especially prominently in my thoughts on the subject. Since Book of J is still just a rough concept I haven’t any idea, yet, whether this will be a single volume or multiple-volume story.
Story of G: This is the next short story I intend to write for the Writers of the Future contest. After “PFTETD” placed an honorable mention, I am both encouraged and determined to go all the way. I don’t know if Story of G will be strong enough to take the top honors, but I’m going to give it my best shot. Story of G is based on one of the flash fiction stories that I’ve posted previously to this site, but heavily modified and enlengthened.
What Happened in August Valley: What Happened was going to be the next story I wrote after completing “PFTETD”, but after making it about a thousand words into what I had originally expected to be about a 9,000 word story, and having realized I still didn’t know where I wanted this to go (despite it being based on a real-life series of events), I stalled. The problem, of course, is in trying to apply a narrative structure and meaning to events that lacked such structure and meaning – as well as trying to add a touch of the fantastic. Still, despite the problems this story faces, I’m determined to finish it.
And…. way, way, way, way on the back-burner, we have these:
The Book of A: Intended to be the first in a five-part epic… we’ll just have to see how that plays out and whether I still have the interest to pursue this one. The Book of A is an epic space opera that owes more to the traditions of fantasy than it does to the traditions of sci-fi – though it is set in the distant future of our universe as opposed to an alternate fantasy universe. It would definitely qualify as sci-fi, but it’s not hard sci-fi, by any means, and woven through it is a touch of the fantastic.
The Book of C: Conceived of as the first in a trilogy, the Book of C is a full-on genre romp – at least in its intent its a mash-up of different genres and bending conventions. It centers on three ostensibly unlikely characters who are brought together in spite of themselves, and find they must rely on each other if they’re each to come out alive. The precise nature of the plot and setting are broad strokes and a bit blurry, this one is really all about the characters and the genres each is trying to break out from.
The R Serial: If, and that’s a big if, I ever have an opportunity to retrace my steps, I may attempt a rewrite of this. When I was in High School I wrote a “serialized” short story. At various times I’d intended to transform it into a novel, but I think the serial structure may be better-suited for it. Thematically, “R” is a crazy near-future sci-fi mashup that, by its end, has strayed far from the strictures of sci-fi and into some really bizarre territory (or at least… bizarre for the time, which originally was the mid-to-late nineties). I’d thought about trying my hand at it and updating it (the time period in which I originally set the tale has recently passed), pushing it a little farther out into the future – but the subject matter and plot are such that I actually find this rather daunting. In fact, I don’t know for sure that this tale, originally conceived in my youth, can be told in satisfying way, or done well at all.
Other Short Stories: I’ve got several other short story and novelette-length ideas that I’d like to pursue… but other stories are currently higher-priority. Several are based on stories I’ve posted here – ideas that I thought were well-worth a second glance and more depth and breadth. Time will tell if I have the opportunity to work with them. I also have it in mind to set some short stories in the world of Project SOA, but I’ve yet to get to a point in the project where that’s feasible.
Other Vague Possibly Novel-length Ideas: I’ve got one or two sparks that may or may not be something that can, in time, mature into other novel-length story ideas. Only time will tell.
And that’s all for now. I will admit to having a bit of book envy for those who seem to have dozens of novel-length story ideas they want to work on whereas I have only a few. But if each of these or even if any of these were to be published, I cannot lie: I’d be thrilled.
At any rate, you know have a set of convenient monikers that will hopefully be easier to recall whenever I refer back to them in future posts.
Today’s question for you other writer-bloggers out there: how do you handle referring to the work you’re doing and the titles of your stories on your blog? Do you use code-names? Do you freely post your working titles? Do you obfuscate, reveal only that a book may or may not exist, or conceal it entirely? Do you work on multiple projects at once?