Is anyone working on a traditional novel?


#1

I’ve been speaking with a few folks who run small publishing companies in my state, as well as some local authors, and I’m getting the bug to start on a “traditional” novel this winter. Frankly, compared with all the time I’ve spent on CCH writing numerous versions of scenes, factoring in stats/variables and alternate paths, it seems like writing a “regular” story where you just focus on plot and prose would be a piece of :cake: in comparison. (I know this is likely not true!)

I want to focus on my craft pursuing a project that doesn’t involve me worrying about moving parts/mechanics. I know some authors are talented enough to combine both tight prose and masterful plotting with game mechanics, but I am not one of those people, and I’m afraid that sometimes I just write a “good enough” scene prose-wise because I have to write three other versions of it, and I just don’t have the writing stamina or creativity to make each one of them have the “wow factor.”

My writing group has been very excited and supportive about my Talon City excerpts so I have the source material for a novel (and an outline). I’d like to think I could write a draft over the course of the winter and see where I am come April.

Is anyone else considering this?


#2

Working on three traditional novels right now (political conspiracy, pirates and a murder mystery, respectively), hoping to get the first one done and published this time next year.

I wish you (and your group) all the best with your projects :slight_smile:


#3

Says you! I say differently. But, I do understand your sentiment - burning out over this is not good either, albeit I’d miss you if you went away completely, no doubt.

That’s all I wanted to say, really. :blush:


#4

I actually wrote two books before I found CoG. Both were self published but are now out of print as I never went too far in the process advertising wise due to a foolish younger mentality of “I like it but it’s not good enough”.

I wish you luck I find writing a CoG easier as story wise it’s nice to approach a scene from different perspectives.


#5

Currently a bit under halfway through a novel, after what seems like over half a decade of false starts with projects that went nowhere. I wish you luck, as well!


#6

I am writing a ZE novel. A publisher showed interest, but published writers I know suggest getting an agent first.

After writing choice games, I find traditional writing a faster process (writing 1,000 words is a lot faster), but I am really out of practice with giving inner dialogue to characters.


#7

Not writing a novel, but working slowly but surely on a book of literary criticism about the short poetry of Edmund Spenser. I should make it interactive. There’s not enough interactive nonfiction.


#8

I’ve written a few and I’ve got one going on and off now that I work on whenever I’m burned out on everything else, but it’s a just for fun thing for me. It’s been years since I had serious ideas about getting published.

The popularity of self publishing in a weird way was a big factor in killing my interest in it. There’s just such a glut of this stuff out there now, especially fantasy fiction, that even just as a reader filtering out the dross from the good stuff I find it almost more headache than it’s worth.

And as a writer, I have a hard enough time even getting people to read something like a 2000 word short story, for free, so spending a lot of time and effort pushing books in their face seems pointless. Writing a novel is still tons of fun though, even more so now that I’ve learned to actually complete them. :slight_smile:


#9

See your “inner dialogue” comment is one of my concerns as well.

I can see transitioning from writing interactive fiction to writing a 1st person POV traditional novel, because in both, the protagonist is going to appear in every scene, and in both, you’re only getting that inner dialogue from the protagonist.

But going from writing interactive fiction to writing a 3rd person POV traditional novel seems very challenging just from a brainbox perspective. And also being able to jump around to scenes that don’t feature the main character, just from a storytelling perspective, that would seem to open a lot of doors.


#10

The biggest thing about internal dialogue is finding out what the difference is between you and the character, and adapting what you would think in the same situation as the character through that filter.

Imagine you are confronted with a monster. Some weird, snarling horror that it hurts to even look at. What would your thoughts be? Would you think about escaping, or fighting? Would you not even be capable of thinking in that moment? Would you feel some twisted sense of relief? Then think about your character, in the exact same situation. What’s different?

That’s the easiest way I’ve tried, at least.


#11

I’d like to suggest a choice tree that provides one choice per applicable “lens.”

As I’m thinking about that, I’m also considering having a second tree provide one choice per poetic line, to allow the reader to progress into a detailed analysis of said line.

Then again, you can simply have a prompt that tells the reader how many lines the poem has, and you can have three choices to read the poem, jump to a line, or return to the main menu.

Of course, the main menu should probably include a list of works analyzed, or if that’s too many choices to put on one page, a search function…

Ok, yes. The search can theoretically let the reader enter a letter into an input_text field, then bring up search results that only start with that letter.

The problem with that is that Edmund Spenser seems to have many poems with similar names, i.e. Poem 92 or Poem 12. This is a menu problem where you don’t want too much information on screen at once.

I’d suggest dividing the main menu into Early Career, Mid Career, Late Career. That’s three choices. The fourth choice can be Biographical Details.

The problem now is with the second menu. Surely every lens isn’t applicable to every poem, so would you want to have a list of lenses first, or a list of poems first? Probably the latter, but it still hasn’t occurred to me that this may be a book that includes only a set amount of (perhaps new) literary criticism, or is in fact a new collection. In that case the information is finite and should be easier to categorize.

Thinking about the amount of information leads me to want to see a “link” (a choice) to existing criticism on Spenser himself; forms of poetry; other tangential, but related, things.

If you are trying to make this a different kind of “interactive” then you could divide the project into two modes: study mode and test mode. If this is an interactive book aimed at students, you can construct multiple choice questions and have them take a quiz on what they just read. Then you can grade the results accordingly.

Well these are just some ideas, but I did take your comment seriously. You should too! :wink:
I hope this first draft of a framework helps to inspire and/or generate some ideas.


#12

I am, that’s where I come from after all. Though I have to say I really have been spoiled writing games, I don’t have to settle for a single canon, finding alternate scenarios makes me work at finding a lot cooler variants than I would have picked had it been a straight novel.

That being said, not all novels can be made into games…


#13

I was reworking this game idea I had into a novel (urban science fantasy) but then became disgusted with how often I repeated words and couldn’t decide if I was lingering on a scene too long or too briefly.


#14

I have two published novels and another 4 in the pipeline—all with a small local press (here in Australia). Plus one self-published (mainly as an experiment) which I’ve recently taken out of circulation. And a bunch of IF novels. And in the past I’ve had two other novels accepted by small publishers who folded before publishing me (most die within two years).

I can talk about the difference between novels and IF novels allllll day. I wrote a short guest article here a while back.

First of all, Eric you are an excellent writer. Skill-wise, you’d be in the top 5% of wannabe authors, definitely. Already. Yes, there are certain techniques that are different between IF and regular fiction, but you’re also someone who learns fast. So none of that is an issue at all. (“Easier” is an imprecise term, but standard novels are easier than IF in my opinion, especially when it comes to editing. Having said that, I genuinely prefer writing IF because the stylistic pressures are more creatively helpful than harmful - less of the dreaded ‘Blank Page’.) You’re also excellent at marketing. Publishers pretty much require that these days, so that very much counts in your favour.

So go ahead: write that novel. I recommend a young adult novel (shorter and often less intense; generally IF is loosely targeted at young adults). Make your PC (er… main character) a couple of years older than your reading audience, and you’re all set. Your style suits YA and it’s easier to get into than ‘pure’ speculative fiction. (Sidebar: I always write novels in first person. Love it.)

Here are some things worth knowing, however: Money-wise, fiction is a terrible place to be. Think about how hard it is to get paid as a game developer, and multiply by 100. Literally. On a good day.

I write full time, working on both novels and IF, but 99% of my income is from IF. If you add up the money I spend travelling to conferences to sell my books, I make a loss on anything I can’t drive to and from in a single day.

I’m with a small press (which actually has been a fantastic experience, letting me do stuff like add interactive fiction story bonuses to each novel, plus next year I’ll be releasing a feelie story through the same publisher). So the first barrier to selling books is that no one has heard of my publisher, and a large number of people assume it’s a vanity publisher (ie they think I pay the publisher to print my books and make them look legit, but there’s no standards and no editing…which is incorrect). The second barrier is that publishers don’t sell directly to bookshops, distributors do (they have reps who post glossy magazines directly to shops, and the shops then order stock from them). My publisher DOES have a distributor (many small publishers don’t) but the distributor is also small and not well known, so a bunch of bookshops don’t even look at their magazine. Then, if my books do actually get on a bookshelf, customers haven’t heard of me and are reluctant to take a chance on a new author—so most of the books end up returned to the publisher. Small publishers barely advertise, so there’s virtually no buzz surrounding small press books, ever. No buzz = no customers. I’m lucky that my publisher does truly excellent covers. A lot of small publishers do it in-house, sometimes with really crappy results that scream “this books sucks”.

Larger publisher = larger distributor, but still no advertising so no buzz.

US author means you have one more barrier: getting an agent. Most publishers will only look at books submitted through agents. (You’ll still be waiting many months for a response, btw.)

Writing is fun, which is a problem for authors. There are way too many of us, compared and not enough readers to sustain us all. Most full-time writers in Australia earn $12,000/year (about half minimum wage). And it’s not the fault of large publishers either (although I know from experience that they will baulk at a lot of silly stuff, eg gay relationships or a non-Caucasian main character). Most major publishers actually make a LOSS on most of their books. A few bestsellers are keeping everyone else afloat.

Large publishers get about 10,000 unsolicited manuscripts every year, and publish less than one on average.

My books are fun. It’s great to hold my books in my hand, and I get respect instead of confusion when I say what I do (“I write novels; yes they’re published” rather than “I write IF… that stands for Interactive Fiction… it’s sorta like those Choose Your Own Adventure novels from the 80s, but now it’s all digital phone apps…I get paid for this, I swear…”). I do get some people reading one form and then checking out the other—but a lot of readers don’t transfer between IF and novels. For me, writing novels is financially stupid. Of course I could be the next JK Rowlings… but it’s worth noting that there hasn’t been any writer with her level of success since her. And those books started twenty years ago.

I find that with novels I burn out creatively much sooner in terms of sheer word count. I can write one or two novels in a year, but half a dozen IF novels. You may find the opposite is true, I dunno.

Good luck whatever you do. I’m confident you can write a novel, and it’ll be good. But hopefully this info helps you (and everyone else reading along) decide if it’s worth it or not.


#15

I am currently working on the first book in a fantasy romance trilogy I have planned. I’ve already been working on it for a bit, but while I have a pretty good outline of the entire series, actually writing it has been difficult. I write the first chapter and then immediately find I’m dissatisfied with it and can’t move on until I have it perfect. Perfectionism will forever be my fatal flaw.

In a weird way, I’ve had an easier time working on my ChoiceScript WIP than any piece of linear fiction. I suppose because, in some way, I’m not committing to any one plot point or line of dialogue. There’s a complexity with interactive fiction that just suits how my brain works. I can wrap my mind around it with extreme ease. My mind is often a little too full, doing too many things at once, which I guess lends itself better to working on different branches of something at once rather than focusing solely on one singular thing.

Or it’s the fact that I’ve posted my WIP on the forum and I thrive on the attention and feedback. Probably a bit of both, honestly.


#16

THIS!

I’ve had that exact conversation at least once per week for the past few years. Insert the “I don’t really understand it, but I’ll nod and act like I do” reaction here.

And I would either go self-publishing or explore small presses. With time at a premium in my life, the small press route is actually the most appealing to me, assuming I found one that was a good fit and brought the needed value, and assuming they actually wanted to work with me. I can be difficult at times. No, it’s true. :neutral_face:

And Felicity, I’m sure your post helped a lot of folks reading the thread; and everything you said pretty much matches up with my understanding of the American market as well. It’s daunting, but it is what it is. And from what I’ve seen on Twitter, your covers of your books ARE awesome.

I still think we should all push ourselves out of our comfort zones and try new angles to writing, although not at the expense of making some money if we can. Maybe next year I’ll write another CCH short story too. It was fun writing the Stoic one, and it was an effective tool for getting readers to sign up for my mailing list.


#17

I get, “Ooh! Cool!” as a response. You must be saying it wrong. (Tsk, tsk.) The key is to say it fast enough that they don’t have a chance to walk away, but not so fast that it doesn’t sound like real words any more.

You’re welcome (walks off singing… I know you have kids so I know that song will follow you for the next week).


#18

I’m presently writing a web serial which is structured more like a traditional novel than a typical serial, IMO. Not All Heroes.

It’s both more difficult and easier than writing a Choicescript game. However, I definitely think that the difficulty is the kind that forces you to expand your abilities. There are a lot of skills you need to have which aren’t necessarily ones honed by writing a 2nd-person interactive piece. The reason I didn’t go straight into any of my HG ideas, or a full pitch, is because I didn’t think I’d grow creatively.

As an Australian, everything @Felicity_Banks says is stuff I’ve heard from my own associates, so, she’s one to listen to (particularly the stuff about YA fiction!)


#19

I’m currently working on a traditional novel fairy tale/fantasy type story right now. I’ve written the beginning and end, and now I’ve got to go back and write the middle. After a few rounds of editing, I’m hoping to get it published. I’ve estimated that if I do, it’ll probably be around 2024 or 2025.


#20

I’m writing a fantasy thing right now - no desire to try and publish it, it’s just for practice - and sadly I can’t show it to you guys because it’s in Serbian and I cba to translate it to English. I obsessively keep rewriting it because I just can’t be satisfied with anything. So far I’ve only written individual scenes, and I have absolutely no idea what I want the actual main story to be, or even the relationship between two main characters: one moment they’re siblings, the next lovers, then both, then best friends. I don’t even know which narration I want it to remain in.