Project Inventory

You know how it goes: start one WIP and a dozen more brawl to be next in line.

I've really fallen out of the writing habit lately. To get back in the swing of things, I'm pausing my main project to work on a novella I've let stew for years. I figure this marks as good a time as any to post about all the projects I'm juggling.

Isle of John [novella]

It's been five years since a hive mind took over the island nation of Kyos. Nobody knows if the people it absorbed still exist as individuals, but with millions of locals and tourists alike trapped on the island, it's about time someone found out.

Enter Essel: a nervous accountant whose sole qualification is a debilitating immunity to magic. His condition may render him safe from assimilation, but Essel doubts it will keep him safe from anything else.

The aforementioned novella! “Guy immune to magic (in a society where its lack constitutes disability)” is an idea I return to a lot. My dear Essel was the first character I made to fit that profile. But I never did write his story.

I'm taking a much more whimsical tone with this one than usual. In part to lower the pressure and get back in the writing habit, but also so I can write things like “Claradon's hand fell on his shoulder like a fat spider from a basement shelf” without being dissonant.

Out with the Bathwater [novel]

Valyn cleans clothes. Valyn cleans people. Valyn cleans curses no one else can see out of clothes and off of people.

One day, Valyn wipes away a curse and the man beneath shrivels to dust.

This project is the one I'm taking a break from, and also, my darling. I've built up its world for years and plan to set other stories there once this one is finished, but they won't form a cohesive series. One novel here, one novel a hundred years earlier and across the globe, one novel down beneath the sea...

Feyport [podcast]

Feyport is a second-world fantasy travelogue hosted by the only man incapable of magic. Join shapeshifting host INH in his quest for Feyport: a legendary train station that takes you where you want to be. Along the way, he tracks down paper towns, stumbles into secret societies, takes part in bird festivals for birds, and gets lost in a series of impossible landscapes.

But INH isn't the only one searching for Feyport—and he'll soon realize his fellow seekers may have nefarious reasons to hunt that train.

Hm, “lone guy immune to magic in a world that relies on it”? Sounds familiar. INH was resurrected from what was, at the time, Essel's neglected ghost. Now in audio format!

I love the idea of a fantasy travelogue. I'm a sucker for podcasts hosted from within their own fictional setting. Combining the two was an obvious choice.

It'll be a while before I publish any episodes. It's a lot of writing per episode (basically a full short story each), I'm new to audio editing, and I'd like to finish up my novella before dedicating this much time to a side project.

The Ache [novel? series of novellas? video game??]

Citizens of Prine Harbor like to call the Ache a disease. But disease can't explain a fraction of the maladies afflicting their city: curses, meteors of molten slag, the disappearance of whole families...

The Ache is not a disease, and it cannot be cured.

Oof. The Ache. What a mess of a project that I love very, very much.

It began life as an over-ambitious idea for a mystery RPG. Then I remembered how much I hate programming, and it became a novel instead. One 115k-word draft later, the story suffers from both its original conception as a game and the dozens of iterative changes made to its setting (originally 1920s historical fantasy, it drifted further and further into second-world-itude as I went).

I can't decide what to do with it now.

I've identified major edits that should whip the novel into better shape. But it will require cutting out an entire POV character and beating back subplots wound tightly to the main arc. Can I really bring myself to butcher it like that?

It might work as a collection of novellas, each anchored to a lone viewpoint (the novel has four main POVs, plus a few more tossed in for flavor!) But the mystery at the heart of the story, the source of the Ache, would be revealed at the end of the first; can the remaining three stand by their own merit with their conclusions known in advance?

It might also work as a series of narrative point-and-click adventure games. Here knowing the source of the overall mystery wouldn't matter so much. But again: I hate programming. Oh, my god, I hate programming.

For now, my poor Ache remains in its trunk.