Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Next Leg

As you set out for Ithaca,
Wish your journey to be long, 
Ithaki, Constantine Cavafy
Getting started on a new writing journey is always a little daunting. Actually, blogging about it helps, it's like talking to someone. Hello? Actually maybe it's not. Kind of scares away the demons, though and gives you the courage to carry on.
Now with Latitudes launched on the world, there is marketing to do, but there is also the sense that it has a life of its own now, no matter what happens. Time to turn attention and face the hardest part. You start with the thought: Where can I turn the light now? What is my burning need to say? I have written three novels so far.
One thing I've learned in the self-publishing adventure is to think in terms of market. It is amazing the lack of originality in the book world. You think of novels, and the word itself means something new, different, but there is in fact little new or different in books. If you have written a murder mystery featuring a drug addicted homeless millionaire, or a thriller featuring a teenage vampire in love with a basketball star, you are joining the parade of thousands, and you have a chance at best-seller status. With books as in food and other commodities, we like what we already are familiar with. Going against that is swimming against the stream. So...
Taking my character driven, plot resisting story telling instincts and twisting them a notch, I have decided to write a thriller. That's right, a young adult thriller with plot twists and contemporary action galore. Now the only way I'm going to do that is also to change my methodology a little. Therefore I have researched and found what I wanted. It is called the snowflake method of constructing stories, and seems reasonable and not simplistic. With the scaffolding of multiple pre-writing documents,  this will be a less mysterious way to go, but I think in the end, my characters will always retain the stamp of their creator. So I am not worried about their dimensionality. This should be fun. So far here is my elevator pitch. See if you like it:

While on vacation, a widowed high school teacher and his son find a Mayan calculating tablet that is the long sought key to the doomsday machine being built by the al Qaeda terrorist Ali Jajabr.

Right now it's tentative title is Cypher. I've written a synopsis and character sketches of the five main characters. Next I will build a scene list on a spreadsheet. Then I will write the first draft.  I'm not going to predict how long it will take, because that depends on so many things.
Next week, while in Costa Rica, I will take notes and do some research. So the next leg is already underway. Hooray for the craziness that is the writing life. Ithaca will loom on the horizon someday soon, perhaps.

Anthony Caplan is a writer, blogger, teacher and homesteader in New Hampshire. He is the author of the novels Birdman, French Pond Road, and the just released Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home. Find out more about him and his work at 

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