This is the time many people plan their projects for the year. Not me. Before you can plan a new writing project, you have to choose a new writing project.
Most of my writing focuses on travel. Research trips may be off the agenda for several months yet so my series won’t be growing for a while. But like most authors, I have notebooks full of ideas for writing projects. I can adapt. That might mean switching genre.
There is a challenge; I have so many ideas for new writing projects, I’m overwhelmed by the choices. There’s a danger of succumbing to decision fatigue. As long as I knew my next project would be a travel mystery, I only had a few ideas to choose between. Now I’m looking at pages and pages of ideas from different genres. I could use some help.
From murder mysteries to dystopian fairy tales, the choices are all there. But which door should I go through?
The classic mystery genre, which I love to read (and watch), is calling to me. I brought a little of the country house mystery style into my third book, The Lost Cargo, but nobody died in that story.
Having done a little research to develop some ideas, I’m thinking cosy mystery is the darkest I can get with this one.
I’ve had several ideas for horror stories lately. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I actually want to write these. The concept of a comedy horror is a little more appealing than a classic horror. But it still starts with researching disturbing topics. Slightly concerned about what might be behind that door.
Events that couldn’t possibly happen yet sound like a wonderful escape from reality. And something completely different from what I usually do might be just what I need right now.
A puzzle wrapped in suspense with a side of excitement sounds like a lot of fun. But you have to be very clever to write a good crime thriller and I’m not entirely sure I could pull it off!
I enjoy writing for older children and they say laughter is the best medicine. The idea I have would probably fit a short story format best.
This could work as a complement to my existing short story, The Vanishing of Zenith House. It would keep the next project in the same ‘family’ of work I’ve already produced, and help nudge that existing work closer to publishing, as part of an anthology.
Folklore was a big part of my second book, The Lost Plantation, and I loved writing about it. Plus, I could use aspects of places I have already visited without needing to do on-the-ground research.
This is essentially a drama, set on a spaceship or another world (or both). Again, it’s very different from what I usually write and could provide a welcome escape from reality.
Dystopian Fairy Tale
During the pandemic, I’ve surprised myself by wanting to read dystopia. I think what I’m drawn to is seeing the characters come out the other side. I’m loving the re-emergence of fairy tales, too. Originally, many fairy tales were dystopias. But over the years, they’ve been adapted for younger readers.
Now we’re starting to come full circle and add some darkness into our fairy stories again but importantly, with a happy ending. I need happy endings right now.
I know many authors have multiple projects on the go at the same time. I’m reluctant to use this approach though. I would like to be ready to begin another travel mystery as soon as I am able to travel again. And I don’t like leaving projects unfinished.
How to Choose?
Setting my thoughts down here has helped me understand that I have three criteria already. One, I want to enjoy writing the story. If I’m going to spend every waking hour thinking about it, it should make me happy.
Two, I’d like to retain my current audience. A storyline that could appeal to young readers, as well as adult readers, seems like a good idea.
And three, it would be good to write something that will be popular. There’s more on this in my post Predictions for Fiction.
If you have a favourite option, tips for choosing a new project, or thoughts on switching genre, the comments are open!
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