Starting From Scratch: Again

After cataloging the process of writing Strawberry Fields, I had intended to continue the series by talking about the revision, but then I realized that this would take far too long to get started. I like to leave my books for a few weeks before I start revising, giving me time and distance so I can come back to them with a new, fresh perspective. Rather than make you wait for that, I’ll start in the early, early stages of my next book, tentatively titled Not the Real Title.

My goals for Not the Real Title are:
1. I want to write a dark fantasy. I love to read Dark Fantasies, and I bet I could do a good one, and I’ve had this idea nagging at me for literally years, so I think it’s finally time. This is, however, a big step away from what I’ve published in the past, and I don’t want to try to pull as many readers as I can from one series to the other, which leads us to:

2: I want to make it stylistically similar to the John Cleaver books. This does not mean that I want to write another “sympathetic serial killer in small town America,” but that I want to repeat some of the deeper elements: it should have a horror feel, it should have a strong, flawed character, and it should show horrible things through a lens of dark humor (I really missed the dark humor in Strawberry Fields, and I really want to get back to it). On the other hand:

3: I want the new book to be stylistically different from the Cleaver books as well. Instead of short, single-viewpoint stories with a strong single focus, I want to tell a much larger, more epic story that draws on multiple viewpoints. Why? Because I like reading that kind of thing, and despite a couple of attempts I’ve never really written it before. I want to stretch myself and try new things. And speaking of new things:

4: I want to write an “Industrial Fantasy,” which is my own code for “steampunk with a very dark feel.” Like I said, I’ve had this idea cooking in my head for years (approximately six, including one semi-draft written for NaNoWriMo a few years ago), but I’ve never really had the chance to do it right. I want huge cities and extreme poverty and plenty of hope and despair and intrigue and giant robots; imagine an epic fantasy horror as written by Victor Hugo. Steampunk is sort of kind of gaining ground in the marketplace, so it’s popular but still very much in its infancy as a solid, cohesive genre, so I think it’s a good time, if not a perfect time, to try it out.

5: The real working title is Nightbringer, by the way. It’s just that Not the Real Title was funnier (and, in a sense, equally accurate). I doubt I’ll keep that title, but you never know.

So, with these goals in mind, where do I start? With pure, unfiltered brainstorming. I’ll let you in one some of it next time. Unless I do a WFC recap first, which is likely. Be prepared.

9 Responses to “Starting From Scratch: Again”

  1. Arlene says:

    Sorry about the pizza. Those are the breaks.

    I’ve been very interested in the steampunk genre for a while, but I haven’t read or watched enough of it to have a good feel for what makes it tick. I liked the example with Victor Hugo (one of my favorite authors) and I’m sure you could pull something like that off. So, good luck! Can’t wait to get my hands on whatever you’re churning out. :)

  2. Donna says:

    Lene, I knew it was you when I saw that this post had 1 comment.

    Sorry to give you second billing on your own blog, but that’s the breaks tonight.
    Good luck with the brainstorming. It’s great to see that you are writing non-stop on a backlog of ideas. So inspiring.

  3. John Brown says:

    This one sounds really interesting. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  4. Steve D says:

    We totally forgot to talk about our steampunk novels at World Fantasy. I was too busy stalking Steven Erikson, sorry.

  5. Ellie Welch says:

    Im 13 years old and I read your book “Im not a Serial Killer” and I was just wondering are there anymore books you’ve wrote about John Clever? I hope so because I really enjoyed the book

  6. SaintEhlers says:

    Good to see you here on the site, Ellie. Dan has indeed written two other books, but they’re not in print. Unfortunately, we have to be patient about these thinks. Keep an eye on the site and you’ll see an announcement when they make their way through the labyrinth that is the book publishing world.

  7. Arlene says:

    Mr. Monster (the second book after I Am NOT a Serial Killer) will be out in the U.K. March 4th, 2010. You can preorder it at

  8. Arlene says:

    I must be really bored because I just bought Dan bacon.

    Enjoy, Dan!

  9. Ellie Welch says:

    Thanks for the replys and I can’t wait for the next book x Im sure it’s going to be brilliant!

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