Monday, August 15, 2016

Perils of the Writer: The Terminal Cases

The other day I was asked (via email) about dead projects, and how one, as a writer, knows not to keep working on something and put it in the drawer.  So I decided to look over my "Terminal Cases".
The Terminal Cases are projects that aren't technically "dead", and... as you never know when lightning might strike and there's call to go back to them.  But it's more likely than not that I won't go back to them and finish them. There are some good ideas in there that it's worth looking them over, and possibly mining them for things I can use later.  And it's always good to remember the dead ends on the path to publication.  Now, some of these aren't genre, and you never know-- at some point I might want to write something that's non-genre lit.
  • The Fifty Year War: This was my first attempt to write a novel in the Maradaine setting, this detailing the war between Druthal and Poasia that's been referenced in the Maradaine novels.  This one I had a complete manuscript, but it's not a proper narrative.  It's more like a loosely connected series of shorts and novellas.  Maybe some day I'll pull elements of it out, rewrite it extensively and put it out as a series of novellas.  Maybe.
  • The Crown of Druthal: This was, at the time, my intention for the Grand Fantasy Series.  It's, of course, in the same setting as the Maradaine books, but this series was to travel the whole world.  Which was the point and the problem: all I had was, "I've made this world, now let's show it all."  Plot was essentially smacked-in with a hammer to justify the path of the journey.  So it wasn't much of a narrative.  I had one manuscript written, and an outline planned out for several more, but in the end, it really wasn't a story.  But it was a useful exercise to learn how to write a novel.
  • The Lowered Bar: The idea behind this was to follow four mediocre students as they muddled through a mid-grade college, eventually to get degrees but not really getting educations. I never really came up with a full outline, just various scenes. It never really came together into a unified whole.
  • Long Night of the Pieman: This one was based on my experiences pizza delivery, boiled down to a driver's adventure in one night. Here I had a full outline, and wrote a fair amount. But as my days as a driver got further and further behind me, the less relevant the piece felt to me.
  • The Xanadu Job: This one was a sci-fi Ocean's Eleven, quite literally. The team was even eleven people, with roughly the same jobs in the movie, and the underlying plan was similar, with some sci-fi twists. A few bit and pieces of this did find its way into Holver Alley Crew.
  • Arthur Wood's Metatextual Life: My concept here was Arthur was a young man, just moved to a new city, starting up a life there. But at the same time, Arthur is the main character of a TV show, with a rabid on-line fandom. So I had ideas for how these different facets affected each other. Like, from Arthur's point of view, he had a friend that he saw all the time, but doesn't see anymore; but from where it's a TV show, the actor playing that friend left and is now on another show. Stuff like that. I had an sketch of how Arthur's life would go over five years (in the form of a five-season episode guide), but there was something structural about the whole concept that eluded me. I never quite sussed it out. So here in Terminal Cases it'll sit.
  • Convergence of Angels on the I-35: This one is well over a decade old in the Terminal Cases pile, really. I had written many chapters longhand, long ago, and then typed it up on the computer. Due to various mishaps and errors in judgment, any electronic version is lost. I still have the longhand, but I have yet to type it up and do anything with it. And I may not, because it is very much a "young man's" book-- I'm no longer 23 years old, spending long nights in diners. But I do love the title.
  • Nightingale: This was my "flawed superheroine" project, about a wife & mother who survives when her family is killed, and gets her vengeance on. I had imagined it as a short TV series, or later as a web series.
  • Dr. Hiro Hirose vs. Professor Badass: This originated from that Internet Meme of Prof. Badass, which you've probably seen. I imagined him as the head of a whole evil team. Then I came up with matching heroes to oppose him, lead by Dr. Hiro Hirose.  The whole thing started as an exercise in googling interesting hero-like pictures, really. But when I tried to actually write, at least so far, I realized I had characters, but no story. Yet. Maybe it'll percolate back up later on. You never know.

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