I’m coming to discover that stories are a lot like babies. I’ve never had a baby, and anatomy will ensure that I never really do, so I’m speaking mostly from speculation. And the seed of a story being planted in my head is a lot less exciting. But work with me here.
My ideas come from a lot of different places. Some of them get caught in my idea net and make it to a piece of paper. For me, a lot of my short stories start with a single line, and then it all sort of tumbles out in a rush. I guess that’s really not like a baby at all. That kind of sounds more like vomit to me. Some of them certainly come out that way. Some even smell as bad.
Maybe, then, novels are a bit more like babies. A small idea starts somewhere in the back of my head and grows over time. Eventually, I start thinking about it more and more. The plot forms like the heartbeat, and eventually characters start kicking at the womb, saying “Hey, it’s dark in here.” Eventually, you’ve got two choices. Give birth to the story, or die.
Well, it’s not really quite that dramatic. But when you have that idea just on the cusp of being born, and for some reason you’re not letting it come out, you’re really stifling that story.
I wrote the first draft of the 150,000 word novel The Last Scion in just under 34 days. If we are to keep with the birth motif, here, that’s the equivalent of being in labor for 5 minutes. That was one hell of a rush. Now it’s in what I call “hibernation”. In a drawer, waiting for me to come and take a fresh look and polish it. I don’t intend to carry on the metaphor, here – nobody should ignore their baby for 2 months, nor should they polish it.
Lately I’ve felt another kick or two of an epic fantasy trilogy I intend to write. I don’t have a title yet, nor am I really ready to give a summary of the book, but it’s definitely in the last trimester. And all while I have “A Red Thing” and “The Wild Wizard’s Win”, two novella-length short stories, in draft. I’m probably insane. But I’m loving this. I’ll do multiple projects as long as multiple ideas are flowing, and I don’t intend to hold this one back any more. A week more or so of meditation, and it’s outlining time. It’s an exciting thing.
Let’s hope I don’t bite off more than I can chew. And in using the cliché, please know that I am not suggesting that you should eat your baby, either.