Finding My Way to a Novel Topic

You may recall that I am trying to decide on a fast, fun novel to write into the dark and I’ve made progress on this. Here are the books I’m trying to decide between, what I’ve learned, and what I’ve decided:

  • Thule – A magical Viking land set in 932 AD with Magnihild the Lightning Scarred as the protagonist. Thule is a fun place to write in, but as I did the analysis I discovered a few things.
    • A point in favor of Thule is that I have a critique group that would enjoy these stories, which makes the editing a bit easier since I’ll have beta readers.
    • My version of tenth century Vikings is not as violent or as bloody or as dark as the current books in that genre. I don’t feel like reading ten books in that genre right now, so that is a point against a Thule novel. I assume that I can find an audience for the stories, but I think it would be a harder lift to find or create a brand new audience than to just move into an established genre.
    • Steve pointed out that what is fun about Thule is the same thing that lends itself to short stories. Typically the characters set off on their own missions, are diverted to Thule, meet with magic or gods, and return transformed. The stories are light in tone. Steve compares them to Fritz Lieber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series, which was comprised of short stories and novellas.
    • According to my market research, Viking fantasy is a fairly competitive category
    • DECISION: I’m going to continue writing short stories in Thule and perhaps add a novella.
  • Argosy – A fantasy story set in the ancient Mediterranean aboard a city of ships. I will probably take The Case of the Missing Wind and turn it into a novel or a novella and change the point of view to Chloris.
    • Unlike Thule, Argosy has a lot of stories within it that have enough heft to be novels. I see it as a place for mysteries and adventure stories sent within a fantasy Greek world.
    • I’ve already read a number of the top books in the Greek fantasy genre and enjoyed them. I can see myself enjoy the others as well. So, this passes the “do I want to read in the genre” test.
    • However, Kris Rusch recommended that I read more books set on the sea to get the rhythm of the sea into my language. Most of the top books in this category are set much later. I’m less interested in these, but since I write so much maritime fiction, I think I need to read these books anyway. This is effectively twice the reading, plus reading research materials, to make Argosy work.
    • According to my market research this is a moderately competitive genre.
    • DECISION: I want to write this novel, but I may wait a bit to gather everything I need for it. So this may be my second novel if another novel looks better.
  • Time Travel with the Time Rescue Service (including my latest character, the Time Librarian)
    • I’ve read most of the books in the top ten of this genre. I would be delighted to read more. This is one of my favorite genres.
    • I have a critique group that read the Time Librarian and said they would like to read more from this world.
    • I have a great idea for a book with the Time Librarian and a member of the Time Rescue Service.
    • The topic lends itself to a light treatment, which is my writing style.
    • It gives me an excuse to read up on history for the topics. Also I have a captive historian I keep trapped in my house for just this purpose. Bwahahaha!
    • According to my market research this is a fairly competitive genre. (I find that I don’t care, which is a sign that this is the novel my inner writer really wants to write.)
    • DECISION: I love this genre. I love the characters I invented. I don’t care how competitive the market is. I’m going to start here. The answer is Yes.
  • The Pirate Plague Ship Caper – This is a short fantasy story I wrote that I think would be better as a novella or a novel.
    • I forgot about this idea shortly after writing it, so it doesn’t hold my attention like the rest.
    • It is a secondary world, which requires a lot more work on my part than just placing a story in a historical setting I already know.
    • Market research reveals this to be a slightly less competitive genre than the others I’ve looked at.
    • DECISION: This is a light humorous heist story and I definitely want to get back to it, but it may have to wait until I have time to sketch out some ideas for the secondary world or can translate it into a story for ancient Greece or Argosy. So the answer for this one right now is No.
  • Steamy Romance A contemporary steamy romance.
    • I don’t have characters or a setting for this one but I have enjoyed writing these stories.
    • I don’t have a critique group I would feel comfortable sharing these with.
    • I’ve read some of the books in the top ten of this genre and enjoyed them. I can see myself reading more.
    • I have a friend who specializes in editing this genre.
    • My market research shows this genre as highly competitive.
    • DECISION: This would be fun to write but I think I need a bit more time reading in the genre and I’d like to write something that can be critiqued by my friends without causing them to blush. So the decision on this one is No, not right now.

I plan to start on two short stories that can be turned into the beginning of the time travel novel this weekend. The first will be turned into Dean tomorrow night as the fifty-first short story for the Great Challenge. In it Lieutenant Paxt goes back in time to rescue Alexander the Great’s kitten.

I hope things are going well for you today. I’m off to write a short story. Be well friends! And stay well.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. I love the Timetraveling Librarian idea! They are all great, but I’m with you on this choice. From what I have read of your work, I feel that your voice and experience would make this setting really come alive and be a fun read. Keep up the great work Carolyn!

    1. Thank you! That is high praise coming from you.

      1. Well… I am a Timetraveling Space Pirate, so Kaptain Viciorious would gladly collaborate as a contractor with the Time Rescue Service! 😉
        That could actually work, if you are interested. KV travels through time to stop Neo-Nazi’s and such ilk from stealing the treasures from the past. Sounds like your Time Librarian could hire some pirate muscle?

        1. I think that Captain Viciorious would be happier in the Time Patrol. There are three service opportunities: Time Patrol (travels through time to observe or make modifications to the timeline where necessary); Time Rescue Service (rescues those members of the Time Patrol and others who recklessly get themselves killed while traveling); Time Librarian (born with an ability to see the multiverse and analyze the best course for the Time Patrol and Time Rescue Services to pursue).

          1. I like this idea! I think Time Rescue Service is right up my alley! Want to send me your story so I can bounce off of it with one?

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