Think Carefully About Your New WIP

I am in the uphill struggle to finish the final book in the Five Rims series, and as the kids say, the struggle is real.  I have been bombarded with so many new ideas for novels that it has become that much more difficult to finish the current novel because I want to move on with other projects.

I suppose this is a good problem (as several writers struggle to come up with new ideas) but if my heart and soul isn’t in the current project then my readers won’t care about it.  I have to care about it, so I’m really trying to care.

As I have stated before, I won’t be doing another series, and I’ve pushed the other ideas over to reams of notebook paper in order to finish the current book.

But as any good writer, I’m reading a lot of other books.

exheroesI read the first book in the “EX” series by Peter Clines.  Great book.  The premise is a world where there are superheroes sort of like DC or Marvel’s universe, but the world is over-run with a zombie apocalypse. Many of the heroes are unharmed (and cannot be harmed) by the zombie virus, and are leading humanity in a quest of survival.

I also am currently reading “The Book of Strange New Things” by Michel Faber, a Dutch author who not only is a best-selling author but an multi award-winning author as well.  His novels are genre bending, and they tend to reach to the heart of good storytelling with realistic characters and high-minded plot-lines.

book of strange new things“The Book of Strange New Things” is a novel about an evangelical Christian pastor who is charged with taking a mission journey away from his wife to an alien planet where a human colony is being created.  He finds a congregation of alien creatures, and prospers by spreading the gospel of Christ to them, but his wife is stuck back home on an earth being ravaged by the inevitable result of global warming.  It is a book about faith and relationships, the backdrop being an interesting science-fiction story.

Both of these novels have given me inspiration for new stories, but I am now thinking carefully about the next novel, mainly what type of story I am going to tell.  My current series is a swashbuckling adventure story in space without much deep symbolism or thematic message.  Sure, the world needs great adventure stories, but I’ve always wanted to write something meaningful, something that would resonate on a more social or political landscape.

This is why I’m thinking very carefully about my next project.  Originally I wanted to tell a story of a young man who develops super powers, is whisked away by another superhuman, only to find out that the earth is protected by a secret society of super heroes.  It could turn political, or it could be a commentary on American Christianity in a veiled allegorical way.

It might be “Ex-Heroes”-worthy, but not “The Book of Strange New Things”-worthy.  I want it to be closer to the latter.  I may have to scrap the idea entirely, but my point is that if you are considering a new project, rather than write yet another vampire story, why don’t you consider being original and saying something within your text that speaks to some heavy social issue?

I’m thinking very carefully about the next book, and hopefully I can give back to my fellow man, take a stand about something that really sets my head on fire, hopefully make people think.

In the end, that will be a better offering from this writer than just another adventure story.


Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

3 thoughts on “Think Carefully About Your New WIP

  1. Roger, you know I completely understand your strife! I fought tooth and nail for a few years to complete my first novel and you supported me all the way. (or at least as long as we’ve known each other) You were so right about bum glue and fingers moving and what getting it done would do for my confidence. Hang in there bud, you’ve got this! I can’t wait to see how the Terminarch series comes to an end!

  2. Hey, Roger. I empathize with the difficulties of sticking with this when your brain has set into that. But you are absolutely correct when you note that, if you aren’t into this or lose steam from when you were into this — readers will know. The temptation is to “get through” the current thing quickly and finally be done with it. But I’d just encourage you not to give in to that temptation. Set the work aside for a bit if you need to, in order to regain excitement (though I’m not sure jumping into the next thing during that break would make it easy for you to regain perspective and enthusiasm for the first project). I’ve read many, many books/series where it was evident to me that the author was into it at the start … and couldn’t have cared less by the end. And that’s made me lose trust in those authors, rather than want to buy their next book.

    Finish well on the first series, so that readers will be able to have that trust in you for the next book.

    1. Thank you, Erik. I realize this problem, so I’m blocking out all the other ideas and just focusing on what made me fall in love with the current trilogy story…that is the characters I created. My hero, a completely unlovable jerk in the first novel, is slowly becoming a human being and will make the ultimate sacrifice at the end of the third and final chapter. It is becoming kind of a Christian allegory really. That’s something I can get behind. As a friend once told me: get done with the series so that you can move on to other projects.

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