You've Finished a Novel. Now what?
Now that I've finished the first draft of The Bootlegger Broadcast, I've thought a little bit about what I should do during the "cooling off" period between drafting and editing. For anyone who's finished the first draft of a novel, congratulations. Jump up and down. Celebrate. Have a glass of wine or a beer.
Here's a thought. After you've sobered up, what's next? Start a new novel? Maybe. But that's huge project, and you've just gone bonkers finishing a big one. What about writing short fiction to keep the juices flowing? Cure the itch. Take care of the voices crying out to be written.
I didn't think I'd enjoy writing short fiction. After all, growing up I spent most of my time devouring science fiction and fantasy novels. I'd gotten used to them. I'd never really paid much attention to shorter pieces.
But there's value in learning to write short stories. Brevity. Using context to convey part of the story. Experimentation.
In between writing The Holovid Hero and The Bootlegger Broadcast, I explored writing character vignettes, flash fiction, and short stories. I explored the backstory of two characters from these novels--Joseph Drake and Sanraya. It helped understand them better. Maybe I could use them to help introduce potential readers to the series? Hmm.
Because writing each short piece took only a few days or hours to complete, it satisfied the craving to write but didn't bog me down in the heavy slog of writing a novel. It also gave me time to read other stories and books on the craft of writing.
I'm going to do the same thing between novels now. Write some short fiction. Read. Get some emotional distance from the novel I just finished, that way I can look at it with fresh eyes in a couple of months.
Just food for thought.