It’s time to start thinking about my next writing project. The novel I’m querying (working title: Virtuous Women) has been such a big part of my life for so long, it’s difficult to think about something else taking its place. But it’s time. Until an agent or an editor comes back with suggestions, Virtuous Women is as complete as I can make it, and I need to move on to my next writing project.
Glimpses of Ideas
I’ve had a number of ideas percolating for a while. Please forgive me for being vague in my descriptions, but I don’t want to give away all my book ideas. I may end up writing some or all of these at some point in the future.
The one I’ve been thinking about for the longest I’ve ruled out because a core plot device is too similar to the one underpins Virtuous Women. It involves a teenager taking on a parental role for a younger sibling. Everything else is different, but both stories center on that theme. I’ll write it someday, but for now I don’t want to come across as too narrow in my focus. So that one can continue to percolate for a while.
I have another idea that I think speaks to the current political environment. It explores how certain policy decisions impact people’s lives in profound ways. There’s the potential for it to spark conversation on some very timely issues, not to mention the depth and richness of the stories I could tell. But it also runs the risk of becoming too dated too quickly, especially with the pace of publishing these days. That one might be better as a series of short stories that could later be gathered into an anthology. (I didn’t actually think of that until I just typed it, and now I really like that idea!)
There’s another that explores family dynamics that are completely different from those featured in Virtuous Women. It’s dark, though. Really really dark. It involves human sex trafficking. I would need to do a lot of research on that, and I’m not sure I can immerse myself in that world right now and still function well enough to care for my family and do all the other things I need to do. So that one’s on hold, too.
The last one that fits in the genre of Women’s Fiction (which, I’ve realized, is where my passion lies) was inspired by a viewing of “A Christmas Carol” last year (Patrick Stewart version). I can’t say much without giving away the entire plot, but it focuses heavily on the dynamics between two sisters. It’s strange that I keep coming back to that, since I’m an only child.
The problem is time. I’m homeschooling two children who have different interests and are at different academic levels. I lead a study group at their weekly homeschool co-op. I’m Treasurer of that same co-op. I volunteer at my church. I’m an oblate at a Benedictine monastery 70 miles from my house on the other side of Boston. I manage our household finances. And then there are all the other, standard mom-things: grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, keeping the house (sort of) picked up, etc. Oh, yes, and that guy I married and made kids with? We still like to spend some time together as a couple.
Finding time in all that for my next writing project is, to say the least, a challenge.
But I think I’ve found a way to economize. The study group I’m leading at my kids’ homeschool co-op is a Dungeons & Dragons group. I’m the Dungeon Master (DM). And many DMs have gone on to become writers. As DM, it’s my responsibility to create a world for the players to inhabit. (There are some existing worlds I could use, but I’d rather just make up my own.) It’s my responsibility to create a plot, and keep the characters moving along in some sort of story, even if it’s not the one I’d intended. Dungeons and Dragons is the ultimate in having your characters come to life and telling you how the story goes.
So I think my next writing project is going to be a fantasy adventure novel. I’ll have to work on it every week, just to keep up with the study group. I realize the novel may end up being quite different from our game, and I’ll probably have to tweak the characters a bit, but I see real potential here.
It’s not Women’s Fiction, but my group consists of four boys and six girls,* and everyone has chosen a character reflective of their own gender. There will be some strong female characters, including a Dwarf Monk who kicks butt, a High Elf Wizard, a Human Cleric, and a Wood Elf Ranger who won’t be outdone by her two male High Elf Ranger companions (that would be my daughter). It will be interesting to see what these girls do with these characters.
So that’s my plan for my next writing project: A D&D-inspired fantasy adventure. I’ll miss my characters from Virtuous Women, but I think it’ll be refreshing to immerse myself in something entirely different from their world.
I hope you’ll stick around and follow the adventure!
*I know ten adventurers is way too big a group, but there was a lot of interest, and I didn’t want to turn anyone away. Hopefully by next term one of these players will ready to be a DM, and we can split into two groups. Until then, chaos reigns!