Consulting The Oracle, or How I Decide What To Write Next

(This posting originally appeared on The Melt-Ink Pot)

As we’ve mentioned several times in the last week, November is rapidly approaching, and with it, NaNoWriMo. One of the most pertinent and troubling questions in my mind these past few weeks has been, “What shall I write this year?”

At last count, my Ideas And Works In Progress list had 34 different ideas on it. Any one of them could prove to be entertaining. But I’ve discovered that with NaNoWriMo, one of the key success factors for me is picking a story that really wants to be written — one where I have a fair idea of the characters and at least some of the key plot points, and most importantly, one I’m passionate about.

So, okay. I went through the list and managed, with great difficulty, to narrow it down to the seven about which I was most passionate this month. The problem was that I liked them all, and wanted to write them all next. Obviously, that was not going to work, so I consulted The Oracle.

No, not the one at Delphi.

In this case, I refer to my friends list on LiveJournal as “The Oracle”. They helped me pick my first NaNo project, and that mostly worked out okay. (Well, except the part where the beginning needs a bit of re-working.) So I was willing to return to them for advice this time around.

The overwhelming majority selected this one:

Story Title: The Daughters of August Winterbourne

Victorian/Steampunk Fantasy

Quick Synopsis:
Celia Winterborne is anxious to prove herself as one of the first female students admitted to the Royal Academy. But when her airship-designer father is kidnapped by the evil Tarmanian Empire, she and the half-sisters she never knew she had must join forces to fly to his rescue.

Celia Winterbourne wants nothing more than to go to the Royal Academy and study airship design, like her famous father August Winterbourne. And this year, for the first time, the Academy is admitting females into its hallowed halls — five of them.

Celia applies and is accepted; for her it is a dream come true. At least, it is until she meets the four other finalists … who are also daughters of August Winterbourne. It seems Papa had an eventful final term at the Academy…

But when Papa is abducted by Tarmanian forces trying to build an airship program of their own, only the five daughters together have the information needed to complete his latest project and fly to his rescue.

So I have no doubt that you’ll be hearing more about this project as November progresses.

However, outside of NaNoWriMo, I was looking for another project. You’ll recall that I blogged last week about creating a Web site for myself? Well, one of the ideas I had was to create an ongoing story that could be posted as a serial to the Web site, to build readership and give people a reason to keep coming back. However, none of my existing ideas seemed quite right for this project. I wanted to do … well … something with dragons in it. But nothing was springing to mind.

Or rather, nothing did until Wednesday evening, when I was showering before bed. (I get a lot of my best writing ideas in the shower. Not in the bath, mind you, but specifically in the shower. My water bill will likely go up next month thanks to NaNoWriMo.) Then a plot bunny up and bit me, and presented me with a universe to write in, and no fewer than four ideas to set in it. I picked the one that engaged my passion the most, and before I knew it, I had written almost 2,000 words on it. (My goal is to have the Web site up and running before November, and I will have a short synopsis of the new story posted there, but will probably wait until after NaNoWriMo is over to begin posting the serial.)

So the answer to the question is: Sometimes I do a bit of market research, and sometimes I just go where my passions lead me.

How do other people decide?


About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
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2 Responses to Consulting The Oracle, or How I Decide What To Write Next

  1. Andrea says:

    I think I must be in the minority here because I am never bombarded with ideas. Instead, I feel like I am constantly walking around with a cap held out, hoping to catch any that might be falling from the sky. :)

  2. Sheila says:

    Sometimes I wish I could keep 'em away. I had yet another plot bunny jump on me yesterday, for a paranormal romance. Yikes, it must be due to the fact that November is approaching!

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