S02E02: Choose Your Genre, Settings, and Scope #WriteANovel2021

This transcript has been adjusted to correct minor mistakes and provide you with the most up-to-date addresses for all the referenced links…

Hello, and welcome to week two of the #WriteANovel2021 here on The Writer’s Everything.

#WriteANovel2021 Week 2

Well, we just completed our first full week of 2021, and I have to say, it doesn’t really feel like anything has changed. But, we should never let the craziness and violence of the rest of the world keep us from living our lives and achieving our goals. My time—your time—is far too precious to waste it on unproductive concerns and issues, things that we cannot do anything about.

That being said, I am elated to announce that my writing this month is already going better than it ever has before. What excites me the most is not just that I have ideas, including an outline for the sequel to my debut novel, Chronicles of the Infected: Those They Betrayed, but that I’m actually getting things done.

This is already the most regular writing I’ve ever done, and allowing all of you to hold me accountable is what’s made that possible. I advertised the #2021NovelChallenge extensively and I was amazed at the support and participation I got for the project. So now it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is, and that is exactly what I need to turn my goals into a reality.

So before we get started with this week’s assignment, I’d like to give you all a little bit of an update on my writing.

Aside from the novel that I’m going to develop week by week for the #2021NovelChallenge, I am also working on my Chronicles of the Infected sequel. I have new marketing strategies and new titles planned for both of the books in the series. My tentative titles are Sanctum: a Chronicles of the Infected novel, and Delirium: a Chronicles of the Infected novel.

Those were partially inspired by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Now, I would describe Delirium, my new book, as Die Hard meets I Am Legend. I’m definitely very excited to get working on it.

Today, as of the time of my writing this podcast, I had the idea for a non-fiction book that I think could be original and beneficial for many authors. I’m not going to give too much of it away at this point, because I want to be further down the road before I reveal what that idea is, but I’ll share more details as I progress on it. I’m aiming to keep it short, simple, and to the point, but also make sure that it’s as useful as possible.

I also had some exciting results reaching out to some of the best writing podcast hosts around. K.M. Weiland of the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast was not interested in doing an interview, but she was kind enough to tweet out my #2021NovelChallenge with a link to the first episode of the podcast. Now, somehow, the podcast ended up posting without background music, which was extremely disappointing and embarrassing, but thankfully, I noticed the problem within a couple hours and had it fixed before I went to bed that night.

Rachael Herron was also so kind as to respond to my interview request. Now, she explained to me that her rule for interviews is that the podcast has to have at least 15 episodes before she’ll appear on it. And of course, that makes sense considering how many podcasters give up shortly after just barely starting their podcasts. Thankfully, though, this is the seventh episode of The Writer’s Everything podcast. So if I keep my current rate up, which I’m certainly aiming to do, I’ll be planning on doing an interview with her within the next couple months. And I’m sure you’ll definitely enjoy hearing from her. She has had the opportunity on her podcast to talk to many different writers and hear countless different tips and tricks about the writing process from them.

I heard some really great advice from The Creative Penn podcast this week, as well. Basically, the point was that we only have so much time to be creative, so we have to make sure that we’re choosing to work on the projects that will be of the greatest benefit for our goals. It really makes me think because, as an example, I really want to keep creating the PDF and ebook versions of The Writer’s Everything magazine. At the same time, though, the ones I’ve already made have hardly been downloaded or purchased at all. My first Chronicles of the Infected book, however, has easily sold over ten times as many copies as the two tWE quarterly collections put together.

So what should I focus on?

Well, that’s a good question, and it’s definitely something I need to be giving more consideration to in the coming months.

Now, I know I said I would be talking about your choices for writing software in this week’s podcast, but that subject ended up being much more extensive than I expected it to be, and I really want to be able to make sure to do the subject justice, so I’m going to be saving that topic for next week’s podcast. In the meantime, I recommend going with something simple as you work on these first couple weeks’ assignments. If you have an Apple product, the Notes app would be perfect for jotting down details about your book. For Android or Windows, I would suggest Microsoft OneNote or Evernote. All of these apps have the added benefit of backing up your work so that you never have to worry about losing it, which, if any of you have been working on a novel and lost your work before, you know that that is an utter tragedy.

Ok. So, let’s get to this week’s #2021NovelChallenge assignment. Over the last two weeks, if you’ve been following along with this podcast, you’ve worked at making a list of your favorite stories that are similar to ones that you would enjoy writing. Then, you made a list of the aspects and details of those stories that really call to you on an emotional level, details that are exciting and fun and thrilling. This list is what you’re going to use to make sure that your story resonates with your readers in the same way that the stories on your list resonated with you.

This week, I want you to start to get a full picture of just what your story is going to look like. There are three things you need to decide on before next week’s episode: Your novel’s genre, your novel’s setting, and your story’s scope.

Genre should be the easiest one for you to select. More likely than not, the stories you listed for last week’s assignment all fit into a specific genre. For example, the numerous time travel-related stories that I listed would all be classified as science-fiction. Now, there isn’t really much of a choice in that regard when it comes to time travel.

However, you also need to decide on the setting of your story, and this is where a decent amount of effort is required on your part.

The stories I chose varied from modern-day, to the near future, to the 24th century and beyond. There’s a great deal of room to work with in the science-fiction genre. However, I feel like the time travel elements of Star Trek and Doctor Who work because they take place within the confines of well-defined universes that we have already grown to appreciate and love. That’s not to say I couldn’t write a story within a setting like that. The book The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet does a really good job of establishing a similar world with diverse and interesting characters in just one novel, but I don’t think I’m interested in developing that sort of world-building for the #2021NovelChallenge. I think I’d rather save that time and effort for my Chronicles of the Infected series.

Now, as I was preparing this podcast, my mind was racing between all sorts of different options, as I tried to decide what setting I would choose for my story. I considered time periods such as Victorian London, but I don’t know much about that point in history, so it would be difficult for me to write in it without doing extensive amounts of research. I then decided to move closer to modern day. Maybe one of the World Wars would work. What if the time travel involved Hitler and Nazi Germany. But how would time travel play into that story in any way besides the typical and well-used trope of: “Go back in time and kill baby Hitler”?

Well, then I had an idea that I would write a story about a soldier in World War I, something similar in tone to the film 1917, but with the concept that the soldier somehow sees visions of the future and knows the atrocities that Hitler and the Nazis are going to commit in World War II. He then uses this knowledge to try to prevent those dark events from becoming a reality.

Sure, it’s not perfect. It’s not even a fully-formed idea. But it’s a start, and that’s what really matters.

Finally, I want you to determine the scope of your story. For example, will it follow a dozen or more characters on epic scales, such as Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, or will it just focus on one or two main characters, such as The Edge of Seventeen, Edge of Tomorrow, or the aforementioned 1917?

…I swear I did not mean for all those titles to blend together like that.

Personally, I think my story should be focused on just one character, the soldier, and perhaps have his friends as supporting characters who pop in and out of his adventure along the way.

That’s all for this week. Be sure to have your genre, setting, and the scope of your story developed by next Monday, and then come back here to listen to Week 3 of the #2021NovelChallenge.

Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of The Writer’s Everything podcast. If you’d like to read a transcript of this episode, you can find it at TheWritersEverything.org/transcripts. If you’d like to listen to future episodes, be sure to subscribe on whatever platform you’re currently listening on, and be sure to give it a rating while you’re at it to let me know what you think of the podcast. The Writer’s Everything is also available as a free downloadable magazine. If you’d like to read it, simply go to TheWritersEverything.org/magazine, and download the issue of your choice. Also, if you visit the site, you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for the tWE newsletter and have all future content sent directly to your inbox upon release. If you’d like to support the podcast, you can do so at Patreon.com/QJMartin. For your convenience, all the referenced links will also be in the show notes.

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