How to Write a Novel in Two Months

As someone who has never thought of himself as a fast writer, I had certain trepidations about this Predator novel gig, exacerbated by being sick for a couple of weeks when I’d planned to work on it and unexpected but lovely distractions (like Utopiales in France). The result is that I basically wrote Predator: South China Sea in two months. I had more than six months to work on it, but only spent about eight weeks at the computer and writing longhand. I’m almost hesitant to mention this because I think some readers and writers equate length of time spent on a project with quality. And it’s certainly true that some ideas, some novels, require a long gestation period and an equally long time in which to revise, revisit, re-envision.

For example, long-time readers of this blog might recall that it took a decade to put together the stories that comprise City of Saints & Madmen and eight years to work on Shriek: An Afterword on-and-off. In my twenties, I was known to spend six months on a single short story or novella.

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Pred Done…Epic Struggle Complete

Oy. Pred novel done. Going to go collapse now.

That’s 87,000 words, four drafts plus copy edits, etc., mostly in the last two months. And yet…I’m really, really satisfied with this one. I think it rocks. (Thanks in part to my first readers, who I’ll mention in a future post.)

AND, dual cause for celebration, Ann just got her copies of her first edited issue of Weird Tales!

Jeff

Weird Tales: Christopher Furst on Being an Orangutan

Writer: Chris Furst
Weird Tales Story: The Last Great Clown Hunt (Issue # TBD 2008)
Writer Bio: Chris Furst writes short stories and screenplays, and he’s working on a novel. In 2007 he received the Older Writers Grant from the Speculative Literature Foundation. By day he’s an assistant editor at Cornell Alumni Magazine; by night he stalks dreamtigers.

***

One of my earliest memories is of taking a book of Poe’s short stories and climbing into a tree to read it. Not just any tree, but the blooming jacaranda in my grandfather’s back yard. High up in the branches covered with purple blossoms, with my back against the main trunk, I hid away from the family sing-along and read The Imp of the Perverse and The Maelstrom, rushing to read as much as I could before I was called back to earth to join the others.

I am an orangutan. No, not the kind of ape that stuffs young women into Parisian chimneys, and not like Clint Eastwood’s goofy sidekick, Clyde, in Every Which Way But Loose. More like Ken Allen, the orangutan from the San Diego Zoo that was famous for escaping from his enclosure and for teaching the other orangutans how to escape, too.

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Weird Tales: Felix Gilman on Literary Belatedness

Writer: Felix Gilman
Weird Tales Story: Catastrophe (Issue # TBD, 2008)
Writer Bio: Felix Gilman is the author of the novel Thunderer, published this month from Bantam Spectra. He currently devotes his time to worrying about his Amazon rankings. He has a blog of sorts.

***

Is this thing still open? Have I missed the assignment deadline? It looks like everyone else submitted their guest posts already. I have an excuse! My cat was sick, I’ve been having a spiritual crisis, my laptop is haunted, I never got your email on time — please I don’t want to be penalized for late submission, I’ll do extra credit work later, we can work something out. Yes? Yes.

My instinct now is to try to work my apology for my own squalid lateness into a high-toned riff on literary belatedness. Everyone’s said it all before, the good ideas for posts have all been used up, all that’s left is to either parrot or react against what’s already been posted; and if this is true of blogging, how much more oppressively true is it of fiction, and doubly or triply so of genre fiction. (I am literally stroking my chin right now). One comes in at the end of a long tradition…

Ha ha, you will politely say, how very clever and metatextual.

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Weird Tales: Ben Thomas on Shakespeare’s Ghosts and Lovecraft’s Gods

Writer: Ben Thomas
Weird Tales Story: The Man with the Myriad Scars (Issue #TBD 2008)
Writer Bio: Ben Thomas is the author of dozens of short stories, four screenplays, and a forthcoming novel; he’s also the lead editor of The Willows Magazine . At Literacity, he muses about counterculture and writing in a semi-coherent manner.

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For a guy who loves to be horrified, I loathe the horror genre. I hate the conceptual box in which it’s locked itself, and I’m tired of watching films whose directors seem to think the way to my heart is through my gag reflex. And I’m sick to death of the typical horror fan’s defense: “It’s all in the terminology!” That isn’t true, because a ghost is still a ghost, and mentioning one in intelligent company these days will frequently provoke smirks. But I wanted to know why, and how, and when this had befallen my beloved tales of fright. So I sat down to think it over.

It wasn’t always this way, I knew. Shakespeare wrote of ghosts, but no one considers Macbeth or Hamlet a “horror play.” True, the Bard was writing in the infancy of the Enlightenment, and supernatural elements would hardly have stood out. But even that fact begs another question: why were witches and ghosts still “mainstream,” so to speak, in those days? To put more of a point on it, why weren’t stories including ghosts shoehorned into a separate genre (or genres) of their own, as they are today?

For the answer, I had to look to history. This next bit may seem like a rehash of facts you already know, dear reader, but please be patient and let the rest of the class learn.

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2008: What’re You Looking Forward to?

As I labor on the finishing touches to this novel o’ mine, I’m curious–what’re you looking forward to in 2008? Can be books and movies and CDs or something more esoteric or personal (including your own projects). Just curious. I feel like I’ve been living in a shack in the middle of nowhere the last week or so. I think I’ve left the house one time. My beard’s longer than ZZ Top’s.

I won’t be posting again until I finish the Pred novel, Monday night.

Jeff

Don’t Worry–There’s Violence and Sex, Too…

Every sense heightened, Nikolai moved like a deadly wraith, carrying three guns and with knives in sheaths all over his body. He drifted like a cloud atop a mixture of painkillers and viral hallucinations, his head full of nails and cotton candy. That’s the only way he could have described it to someone, the disconnect between reality and what he saw off and on, as if watching two movies at once and being in both at the same time.

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