Decisions, decisions…

So, I was thinking, a typically dangerous event. For the past several months, I have been focusing on trying to push my existing works, intentionally refraining from any large-scale new projects. Well, there is one proposal I am trying to put together, but it is largely complete, and is in the advanced stages of revision (not to mention it is geared for a specific publisher, and may therefore have limited appeal).

Now, as much as I am proud of my past works, a writer can only get better by writing more, and every finished story or novel increases the chance that a prospective publisher picks it up. With this in mind, I am thinking about starting my next project sooner rather than later. The million dollar (or, at any rate, the important) question is, what shall it be?

I have fairly detailed notes for a science fiction epic (of sorts), a stand-alone novel dealing with the questions of human aspirations, religion, meaning of life, and existentialism. I am confident that I can do the concept justice, but there are also several downsides to it. The concept is big enough to warrant a very long book, and is introspective in nature, meaning that action in large parts of the novel will be limited. An adventure novel, it is not. And since one of my primary goals at this stage in my writing career is to become published and to give myself a greater chance at eventually having a novel like that picked up by a publisher, a good track record would be necessary before I can push my more ambitious projects out there.

Then, there are sequels. Two of my current novels are written as first entries in their respective series, and one already has about 20,000 words of a sequel written (and set aside for other projects). It is tempting to consider writing second and third books in those series, since the stage is already set, the plot lines already exist, and the characters have been set on the course that would bring them to the series’ inevitable conclusions. But I am hesitant to start on these projects, since the first entries in both series are still under consideration at prospective publishers, and may or may not be picked up. It makes me wonder if writing second and third entries in the series would be the best use of my time if the opening series novels are yet to be published.

There is always another topic dear to my heart, alternate history. My very first attempt at a novel, abandoned at around 50,000 word mark with the option to resurrect it at some point, was set in an alternate history scenario in which the Byzantine Empire did not suffer reverses of the XIth century, and went on to become a dominant, if oppressive and somewhat technologically backward, power in Europe and the Middle East. Sometimes I wonder if an alternate history novel would be a worthwhile next project, as there are many alternate scenarios that could result in compelling stories. While alternate history is, by definition, a somewhat niche genre, it can cross over into more traditional science fiction, fantasy, or a mixture of both, creating many possibilities for a story, from urban fantasy and young adult fiction to more traditional adventure and high fantasy stories.

Finally, there is my first love (in terms of writing), space. I have always been enamored with space opera scenarios, and have written several novels taking place in universes where space travel is the norm. Combined with my love of the dramatic and dark settings, I would greatly enjoy writing a dark, extremely dystopian space opera novel that has nothing to do with Warhammer 40,000 (for the uninitiated, Warhammer 40,000 is a science fiction setting which thrives on dystopian themes taken to eleven). Dark fiction does tend to be well suited to my writing style, but I am a bit concerned that I might be writing too much of a same kind of story.

With this in mind, I hope to make a decision in the next week or two, and start working on my next novel in May. Any thoughts and suggestions are, of course, welcome!

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