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  • scrimgerr

Newer Leaf

I'm not very attentive to this site. I know, I know. It's my brand. I should care more. Not updating your status regularly is a sin against yourself.

Sorry, self.

I plan to improve. This post is my new leaf. All right, I've tried to turn before - my newer leaf. I have hopes and dreams and synonyms. Here we go.

I am about to sign a contract to write my next book. I have thought about the story, and talked about it with a couple of key players. There is a main idea - a hook, if you like - and a sketchy synopsis. I have a character in mind, and am starting to hear hesitant fragments of speech from him, the beginnings of a voice.

From my experience, this foundation is enough to start writing that first draft. I shall start any day now. And you, gentle readers, are invited along. I plan to post daily (which will probably turn into every-other-day and then every-fifth-day and then every week, but whatever. We'll jump off that bridge when we get to it). I don't know whether I will share actual prose, but I hope to fill you in on story and character ideas.

I have been asked many times about my writing process. How long, how often, how discouraging, how uplifting, how much help, and so on. This is how.

Two more points of interest.

1) I will not be writing the book alone. The POV of my hero (for now his name is Cody) will contrast, chapter by chapter, with the POV of Melanie Florence's hero (so far named Autumn). Melanie and I met a few years ago at a Kids' Lit Quiz (our team lost), and liked each other enough to try a project together.

This book will not be my first collaboration. The '7' series, sequels and prequels, and the Almost Epic Squad are all collective endeavours, featuring linked novels whose heroes know each other or are related to each other. I've even co-authored a book before. A few years ago Marthe Jocelyn and I co-wrote Viminy Crowe's Comic Book. Melanie agreed to work with me without consulting Marthe, which is like hiring someone without checking their references. Oh well. She'll find out about me soon enough.

2) The book starts with a social conscience. This is new for me. I'm used to getting into a story because I'm intrigued by a character or plot problem, and along the way of writing, I'll find myself weaving in a particular issue. Lucky Jonah started out as a story about a magic camera. Jonah's sexuality is vitally important, but the idea came later in the writing process.

This one's different. Before I have written a word, I know that racial identity is going to drive this story. The moment we are living through right now has brought evidence of racial injustice to the larger (meaning, I guess, whiter and privileged) public awareness. I want to add my voice to the choir already singing. Black and Indigenous Lives Matter. Into that thematic mixing bowl Melanie and I plan to throw our heroes and their problems.

Let's hope the results are tasty. Being topical or trendy or on the right side of history (for now) does not make your story good. Whatever your jumping off point, authors must find a way to engage their readers. Moses comes down from Sinai with ten commandments. The author goes to the keyboard with only one: Thou Shalt Not Be Boring.

Here's hoping.


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