Back to Fiction

The last time I opened the file containing the latest outline to my original urban fantasy was September 9, 2005.

Yep, over two years since I last looked at it. Sure, I’ve thought about it ever since, on and off, yearning to find the time to get back to it as if searching for a lost love. Every so often I read something and think that would be good research for the backstory or hear how urban fantasy remains a hot genre and figure I better act now.

Being a part-time freelance writer has always meant the paying assignments took precedence. Except for a day here or there, I’ve pretty much always had one assignment or another and as witnessed this spring, too many piled one atop another that it took two months of unemployment to catch up.

Well, that’s been handled so while awaiting the next assignment, I have time, at last, to get back to the original idea. A truism is that once you finish writing something, it’s always best to set it aside before sending it off. That applies to not only novels, but articles, short stories and even e-mails written with a strong tone of voice (in both the personal and professional realms).

Two days ago, I opened the file and read it with very fresh eyes. You know what? Even though it has a beginning, a middle and an end, it’s not good. Not yet. Characters are introduced and dropped without explanation; the stakes are nowhere near high enough for all the characters. Even as I read it, I thought of things to add but realized it’s not in great shape.

I pulled out Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel, which one Michael Burstein recommended at least two years back. Turns out, the bookmark was set at the chapter about plot, right where I needed it. So, I’ve been reading through it, adjusting my thinking to original fiction, original characters, people I control without benefit of an editor or licensor looking over my shoulder. Yesterday, I read through the online outline and scribbled a bullet-pointed version on a pad, so I could see where people vanished, where new entanglements could be inserted and where things could be amped up.

The process is stop and go, stop and think, hesitatingly moving forward but it’s nice to have a few consecutive days to devote a few hours each session to it. Who knows, the finished outline might actually be good.