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Winnowing the Wheat from the Chaff

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 26, 2017

I’ve written and published two books in twenty-two years. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to complete a third book before I die. In light of that, I’ve gone through several score of potential story ideas at various stages of development–from basic idea to completed rough draft–in my word processing program Scrivener, winnowing wheat from chaff to select out a handful of candidates to work on.

I’ve come up with four possibilities, all science fiction. Two are completed rough drafts of novelettes (7,500-17,499 words) I could try to boost up to novella length (17,500-39,999 words). One is set in a post-apocalyptic far future where the main character, an ex-soldier with various biological military upgrades, meets up with someone who claims to be her brother. The second is a time travel/alternate universe story premised on the early, complete assassination of Lenin in an alternate time line.

I also have two promising ideas for full-length novels (40,000+ words), neither of which are anywhere near completion however. One is set entirely in 1968, the year I got politics, which has the main character traveling around to various iconic/historic events, with a sci-fi twist. The second is near-future science fiction in which neanderthals haven’t gone extinct but live secretly amid regular humans on the verge of self-extinction.

The incomplete novels would take a lot of time to finish, but they have the greatest potential story-wise. The novelettes would require extensive rewrites, but they’re basically done. My plan is to concentrate on these four pieces. Which will be difficult because I always have fiction stories in reserve, like two possible, incomplete sequels to my latest novel. One is set five years after the current book, the other a century later, and both are novelette/novella in length. Also, in addition to the archive of fiction ideas and snippets archived in Scrivener, I’m coming up with new ideas all the time. I’ll continue to write my non-fiction MRR columns, of course, but narrowing my focus in the fiction realm seems best.

I’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

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