How do you figure out the next project? If you are like me, you have several stories percolating in your brain all the time. Plus you probably have notebooks/sticky notes/random napkins with other ideas sketched out.
And then there are those new ideas that pop up whenever you aren’t looking.
With all that noise, how do you (or in this case, me/I) decide what the next project should be?
Stories Under Contract
Anything that has a contract attached to it automatically floats to the top of the list. I am mindful that not everyone is at the stage of their career where they have books already under contract. I am fortunate to have a couple series that are in that state. That means, when the publisher asks for the next book, my priorities change to that book.
Fully Baked Ideas
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the ideas keep whirling around in my mind. That means new ideas for existing plot lines hit me often. I try to capture those as they hit. Eventually a fully formed story comes to life waiting or, more likely demanding, to be written.
When a story gets to that point it moves up the priority list. A good example of this is a story idea I have, set in the GalaxyBillies universe. One of the (secondary-at-best) characters will eventually have a story of his own. Probably a one-parter, but who knows for sure. An idea hit me out of the blue a couple days ago that will be really fun to write.
That story has just moved up the priority list.
More Research/Practice Needed
I have a couple story ideas in mind that I think will be amazing. The problem with both is, I don’t feel quite ready to write them yet for a couple reasons. The first is the stories aren’t quite fully-formed. The second is, I think they still represent too big a stretch for the stories I tell.
Every time I write something new I try to grow my abilities, sometimes a little, sometimes by a lot. I need to write a couple more books before my maturity as an author matches what the stories need. That being said, I know what muscles need to be exercised in my next books and I will do so in preparation of those stories (which, as I said, will be amazing).
Stories I’m Writing with Other People
This one is all about scheduling. I have demands on my time as do my co-author(s) so we keep working towards finding time to collaborate. Priorities can shift everything a lot in this particular category as time permits.
Characters Won’t Let Me Sleep
From time-to-time I will have characters clamoring for their story to be told. Sometimes that is in a sequel and others, a wholly new project. It’s not quite a serious as having voices telling me to do things (not psychotic quite yet). Just characters who are so vivid and interesting that I am driven to write their narrative.
The first book I ever wrote was like that. When I finished it, they went quiet for a while. They occasionally get loud again. Fortunately, that book will be published later this year (I’m told). Watch for The Goddess Renewed from Champagne Books. The main characters are already starting to get loud again for book two. 🙂
Everything I do is basically a juggling act. I’ve learned not to work on too many books at the same time (things get muddled) but rather, look toward what project comes next.
How about you? Do you have a more formal system in place?