Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2011: The year of being creative

Digital publishing is obviously bringing major changes to the business end of fiction writing, but one thing I've not seen a lot of yet is experimentation with the structures and formatting of fiction.

What I mean is that, in the future, stories might often be told quite differently than in the traditional prose structure. Some publishers are already looking into and experimenting with e-books that go beyond the norm, that include videos and links and all kinds of stuff. But that's not exactly what I'm talking about.

A screenplay is about the best modern example that comes to my mind, though possibly also scripts for plays or even comic books. Would there be a sales potential in these forms of writing? Probably not much of one right now, but as more and more readers become accustomed to digital reading and more and more writers begin to experiment, I think a lot of things are going to change.

As writers, our dramatic options have been opened up big time. Most of us just haven't realized it yet.

Take for example, video games. If you're an older fan of video games, such as myself, you can remember back in the day when Pong was about the only video game available to play in arcades, other than maybe Sea Wolf. Then along came Space Invaders, and soon after that Pac-Man, and everything changed. For younger gamers, the same sort of thing happened nearly a decade back when Grand Theft Auto 3 became available; the video game world has not been the same since.

I'm predicting something like that will happen with writers and e-books.

Traditional prose novels will always be around, I figure, but I think there'll slowly begin to be more room for more experimental literature and experimental formatting and story structure.

Many writers are already noticing that digital publishing is giving them more freedom when it comes to length. Now, a novel doesn't have to be somewhere between 70,000 and 120,000 words to fit with print technology and readers' expectations. A novel can be broken up into several different novellas, sold separately. A novel can be sold by chapters. Or a novel can be 300,000 words long and sold as one great big package.

That's just the beginning.

More creativity will flow. Writers will begin to figure out other options, new ways to telling stories.

What got me to thinking about this is because I'm already planning on doing something similar for the coming year. I was pondering a blog post about expectations for next year when this hit me. Currently I'm working on a trilogy of novellas, which is in itself somewhat unusual and experimental, but I'm also planning a project that's a bit different.

How different? Probably not massively different, but something that's written for today's audiences, something written for those with shorter attention spans who often read on tiny little screens.

A novel written in a flash format? Not exactly, but maybe something like that. I still don't have all the logistics worked out. But it'll be a fast action story told in short bursts, with short chapters and side chapters and ... whatever comes to mind. It was my thinking about how scripts are written for video games that got me considering the idea, not that I'm going to write and release a game script.

But I've the novella trilogy to finish. And I do have other plans for 2011. We'll see where it leads.

5 comments:

Paul R. McNamee said...

The idea of selling novellas directly is intriguing.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've been thinking much the same thing. I see a lot of potential for abuse of this as well. A lot of crap will be turned out, but there may be some incredible stuff as well.

David Barron said...

David's 2011 big dramatic foray into non-traditional publishing will be a series of five connected "novelletes".

I just like writing (and reading) short.

modicumoftalent.com said...

I'm a little late in commenting, but I fell behind on my blog hopping over Christmas... :)

Just a note about novellas... It seems there might be a bit of a growing trend toward them. I just published one, "Silver Thaw," and it's under 30,000 words. I loved working in that length. It was enough to build something of a world and create a rich story, but not so long that I had to pay a lot of attention to intricate plotting.

I'm publishing a full-length novel on February 1, but while I work on book 2 of that series, I'm planning to do some more novellas. I'm looking at it as a way to build an audience, increase backlist, and hone craft in addition to just playing with some ideas that might not be suited to full-length novels.

I've been reading your blog off an on for a while, Ty, but I think I need to stop by here more. As a fellow indie fantasy author, I need to pay attention to what you're up to.... Thanks for being one of the trailblazers on this road.

Amy

Ty Johnston said...

Amy, you mentioned working on your second novel and some novellas at the same time, and I think that's a great idea.

I'm usually the kind of writer who only tackles one project at a time, whether large or small, but over the last year I've found myself mixing it up a bit more. Possibly to my financial detriment, I wrote a lot of short stories this past year, but I also finished one novella and the first draft of another novel. Part of me feels I should have been working on a novel, but I wrote the novellas and short stories for two reasons: 1.) To get more product out there. 2.) The novella trilogy actually ties in vaguely with my Kobalos trilogy, and both that trilogy and the novellas tie into a much larger, broader scheme I have planned, something that will likely eventually be 25 to 40 novels and/or novellas if I live long enough to finish it all.

And then there's all the other novels I want to write.

Sheesh. I should be writing, not blog posting.