In today’s Journal
* Of Interest
For awhile now, I’ve been casting about looking for a Jack Reacher type character, by which I mean one who would carry a series that was both interesting for readers and fun to write. To that end, I’ve gone through several series:
Joseph “Joey Bones” Salerno, a Brooklyn mob-guy anti-hero, stood up and carried several short stories and a novella. But I had neither the chops nor the permission to write a Joey Bones series.
Then along came Nick Spalding in the exploratory Hemingway-esque novella Jobs Like That. Spalding was fun, and the novella led to the four-novel Nick Spalding action-adventure series.
But with that one I inadvertently limited Nick and his stories (and therefore myself as a writer) to the period between the Spanish Civil War and World War I.
Nick also found himself a woman, one who turned out to be a lot like my ex-wife. But she disappeared and later he found another one — a good one — and soon after that he lost interest in being a mercenary.
Marie Delacroix (the second woman) was a pretty capable mercenary herself, but she also was in love, wanted children, etc. Sigh. So Nick collected his pay and went off hand-in-hand to a new kind of adventure. One I will not put on the page.
After that, Stern Talbot came along. Stern is a classic detective turned PI. As I wrote the stories, I even saw Bogie in the lead role. But there are only so many stories you can write in that genre, and it’s mostly for a very niche audience. I’ll probably write more Stern Talbot books, but I’m not in a rush to do so.
Then I turned to the Blackwell Ops series. I thought for certain (in the early stages) that would be my Jack Reacher series. But the series characters (yeah, plural) themselves had other ideas.
Several POV characters popped up, each wanting to tell of his or her own experiences as an operative for TJ Blackwell. And who could blame them? All I could really do as the writer was sit down at the keyboard and hold on for the ride. (grin)
I hasten to add that it’s been a good ride so far and it will continue. But it isn’t the Reacher character I was looking for when I came through the door.
In the Blackwell Ops series, because of the necessary series-of-stories structure in each novel, the actual writing is like encountering an accordion effect in traffic on a major highway at rush hour.
You know. You race along for awhile, then come to a crawl, then race along again. Eventually you get to your destination (the end of the book).
In Blackwell Ops, the POV character goes on an assignment and the story races along. But the assignment eventually ends. Then I’m obliged to write a short, quieter transition as the operative is between assignments. Then another assignment comes in. The story grinds to a standstill as I take an hour to a few hours to a day to research the new location so the setting is authentic. Then the story speeds up, etc. Again, the accordion effect.
So in the back of my mind, even as I write Blackwell Ops, I still want to find that one character who carries a series on his or her own strong, capable shoulders.
But awhile back I realized I’d already written that character once.
The Wes Crowley Saga, although it featured dozens of characters, remained focused on (was “about”) one character, Wes Crowley, from the beginning to the end around 700,000 words later.
And with one exception as I neared the end of the third prequel in the saga, when I had to tie-in the prequels to my first novel (which would become Book 4 in the series), the story raced along throughout. I love it when that happens. (grin)
I think that’s one of the reasons I keep looking for a new series to write. I want the endorphine rush (or “writer’s high” or whatever it is) to keep going, unabated by anything but my own happy fatigue at the end of the day. And certainly unabated by anything in the story iteself.
I had an “Earth invaded” story going, and it might have lasted through several books, but I painted myself into a corner with that one. So it lasted through only two novels and I seriously doubt I’ll revisit it.
Then I also had The Future of Humanity (FOH, or Journey Home) SF series (10 novels) in which Earthers climbed aboard a generation ship and headed off to Terra 2, a new home planet. They were doing all right when I last talked with them, and it was great fun to write, but I’m pretty sure that one’s over.
Even as I continue toward the end of the sequel to The 13-Month Turn, I was thinking my next series might be a spin-off of Blackwell Ops, even as I continue the BO series into the future.
All I know about that possible new series (all that popped into my head) is that it would have three main characters and that they would strike out on their own on their downtime from Blackwell Ops. But I feel like that one isn’t going to pan-out. I’m just not that interested.
In a way, I’m like a Hollywood producer. Characters come in to pitch me story ideas, and the idea either grabs my interest and I make the “film” in my head or it doesn’t. Frankly, I wish another character as magnetic and interesting and real as Wes Crowley or Four Crows or as interesting and real as almost any of the major characters from the Future of Humanity series would step forward.
But probably I’ll stop looking. I’ve learned we tend to find things more easily when we aren’t straining to look and therefore focusing on too small an area. Probably I’ll just write one-off novels and short stories, and one day a character will really grab me and we’ll be off and running in a new series.
What about you? What does your ongoing learning look like? What do you want to write that you’ve never written before (or what do you want to write again)?
I hope you’ll play along. We can all learn from each other. I appreciate you sharing your comments in the comment section below.
Talk with you again soon.
See “One Day Extension of the Sale” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/one-day-extension-of-the-sale/.
See “Pumpkin Spice and Writing” at https://killzoneblog.com/2022/10/pumpkin-spice-and-writing.html.
See “How to Write an Absolutely Great First Sentence” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/how-to-write-an-absolutely-great-first-sentence/.
The Journal…………………………………… 1110 words
Writing of The Stirchians (novel, tentative title)
Day 10… 1330 words. Total words to date…… 28459
Day 11… 2337 words. Total words to date…… 30836
Day 12… 2115 words. Total words to date…… 32951
Total fiction words for October……… 41143
Total fiction words for the year………… 161525
Total nonfiction words for October… 22410
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 175630
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 337155
Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2022 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2022 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 68
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: In this Journal I promote Writing Into the Dark, a Zen-like letting go and trusting yourself and your characters. I have never said (and never will) that WITD is the “only” way to write, but it greatly increases both your productivity and the amount of practice you get as a writer, and it provides a rapid ascension along the learning curve of Craft. This is not opinion. It is all numbers and facts.