2016 is drawing to a close. Though I don’t adhere to the common ritual of setting life goals in the beginning of the calendar year, I do have several goals I want to accomplish in 2017.

Story Writing Goals

I plan to finish writing A Study in Magic: The Application and Clause for Women, Children and Infirm in 2017. CWCI is heading towards its last act, whereas ASIM:TA has just started to pick up the pace. I also have four story ideas I’ve fleshed out plans for, two of which I intend to turn into short stories.

Writing short stories goes against everything I’ve done so far. The shortest fiction writing I’ve done is a 5400 word fake Lord of the Rings ® Appendix on High King Ereinion Gil-Galad, imitating Tolkien’s style (…). The shortest story I ever wrote is The Sword of Solomon a BBC Sherlock fanfic I wrote several months after The Reichenbach Fall. Could I write a good story in 7500 words? 

Ambitious goals for someone who could never successfully plotted a short story. More so when considering all of the other, non-writing goals I have. But I love the challenge.

On a completely outre and controversial note, I starting to wonder if it’s possible to write something decent reading only a handful of “classics”, and then saturating oneself with genre-specific information in TVTropes and various wiki sites. Could you not get all the common tropes without the pain of wading through a lot of garbage this way? Of course, a writer might get stoned for admitting that’s the whole basis of their background research, and that they’re actually not a real fan…

Experiment in Writing Exercises

Like most writers, I want to improve my writing. Everything I’ve read on the subject of mastering a craft indicates lots of deliberate practice is key. But how does one deliberately practice writing? What is the metrics you can use to see if you’re improving?

One lead indicator-measurement I’ve found is words-per-hour. A lead indicator, in business parlance, is a measurement that is predictive. It’s something you can measure before the desired event that tells you whether or not you’re successful.

Now, I’m not entirely sure how useful words-per-hour is. I do know my writing output and quality peaked when I stopped writing sequentially. I’d just write the scenes out-of-order and then filled the gaps once I’ve finished writing out the major scenes. Taking this concept to the logical extreme, I’ve tried writing sprints. The resulting drafts were unusable as is, but made the polishing and editing process much easier.

About writing sprints for those, like me, never heard of them: it’s a writing exercise where you write for 10 to 20-minute intervals without editing or stopping. Not even typos. A few experiments I’ve done this past week shows it increases the word output, but as I mentioned before, the drafts weren’t usable. It’s too early to say if this is expected or if my drafts will improve with more practice. I plan to sit down and plan more rigorous tests to see if I’m actually “improving”. Whatever that means.

Audiobooks

Audiobooks have exploded in popularity in recent years. I’ve noticed a rise in podcasts and audiobooks for fanfic in AO3 (such dedication!). I’m particularly interested in learning its effects on readers and hearers, and what it means to writers who want to publish.

In my own anecdotal experience, there are books I couldn’t get through reading, but I absorbed when someone read it aloud to me. For other books, the opposite was true. Same book, same content, yet different experience. Is there a difference between stories that are pleasing to the ear, but not pleasing to the eye? Or perhaps reading out loud improves your writing, regardless of genre and purpose? I do read my writing out loud for editing purposes.

Either way, it’s an interesting topic to explore. Also, I wonder where and how you would find the resources to create an audiobook when you’re an indie author.

See you next year!