The Story Pipeline

The Story PipelineAs a writer, I spent a large part of 2014 establishing a pipeline of stories, with the expectation that those stories would begin exiting the pipeline in publishable form in 2015. As of the end of 2014, I had six stories and and a non-fiction work in various stages of production. I’ve added two new projects to the pipeline this month (because I have to keep both of my writing groups busy).

I thought it would be interesting to share what’s in the pipeline, along with the current status and expected word-count/page-count for each project.

First, though, let me explain the process I’ve established for creating my stories (other writers may do this differently). Each project goes through the following steps:

  • Concept: Working out the details of the story.
    Activities: Brainstorming, discussions, research, basic world building and outlining.

  • First Draft: The raw act of getting the story written.
    Activities: Writing and receiving chapter critiques by writing group.

  • Second Draft: Tuning the story based on chapter critiques and a self-evaluation.
    Activities: Editing, writing and analysis.

  • Beta: A group of beta reviewers read the story and critique whether it’s working.
    Activities: Emails and discussions.

  • Final: Story issues and editorial changes from the Beta Review are addressed.
    Activities: Editing, writing and analysis.

  • Complete: The story is ready to exit the pipeline and face the cruel, harsh world.
    Activities: Line-editing, proofing, ebook generation and print template generation.

Without further ado, here’s what’s currently in the pipeline:

# Project Status Type WC Pages
1. Bitter Days
Pageeda is a young, homeless orphan girl in the gritty fantasy city of Mozanya. When she loses the older sister who raised her to some ruthless kidnappers, she’ll do anything to get her sister back — even become a hero.

    — A Story of the Thousand Kingdoms
    — Episode 1 (of 5) of Pageeda & Scuffee

Final Fantasy 19K 63
2. The Rooftop Game
Even though Lydio Malik is the Royal Bodyguard for the infant Princess Analisa of Salasia, he’s ridiculed by his fellow bodyguards for his foreign heritage and his almost obsessive attention to detail. But when disaster looms, the kingdom’s enemies will discover that when he says, “Over my dead body!” — he means it.

    — A Story of the Thousand Kingdoms
    — The Royal Bodyguard #1

2nd Draft Fantasy 12K 40
3. The Good Book
Malcolm Jameson is planning to throw himself off a bridge when a passing bicyclist stops and hands him a magic book. Unsurprisingly, the book has a considerably different plan for Malcolm. And a bad attitude.
1st DraftSecond Draft (4/11/15) Magic Realism 14K 47
4. The Threefold Revenge
Piker’s a City Guardsman in the fantastical city of Monzanya with a bad attitude and a deep-seated prejudice against Neferian refugees. Pageeda’s a homeless Neferian refugee who doesn’t take abuse from anyone. They’re like oil and water, except oil burns.

    — A Story of the Thousand Kingdoms
    — Episode 2 (of 5) of Pageeda & Scuffee

lst Draft / Concept Fantasy 24K 80
5. The Silent Knight
Ser Kedric Hawkthorn thought it was strange when the Boy-King sent him on a diplomatic mission to a rebellious province — he’s mute because of an old injury. But when his liege betrays him, hey, sometimes it’s good to be in a rebellious province, right?

    — A Story of the Thousand Kingdoms
    — Episode 1 of The Silent Knight series

1st Draft
On Hiatus
Fantasy 20K 67
6. Big Sky Country
When Brant Halvar saw the skyboarders racing through the clouds at his first Festival, he knew what he wanted to do with his life. Now he’s trekking north to make his dreams come true — but he’s got no idea of the obstacles he’ll be facing.

    — A Story of the Thousand Kingdoms

Concept Fantasy 100K 333
7. World Building: Creating Realistic Worlds for Stories and Games
If you need more than a “Class M” planet, then this is the book for you: a How-To resource for creating rich, consistent, imaginative and believable worlds.
1st Daft
On Hiatus
Non-Fiction 50K 167
8. The Deep Dive
There’s a civil war brewing between the Belters and the Inner Worlds. When a fugitive Belter activist is pinpointed by his enemies, it’s hunter vs. hunted through the treacherous clouds of Jupiter.
ConceptFirst Draft (3/29/15) SF 10K 33
9. Discovery
When the crew of the exploration ship Exultation begin exploring Spark, one of the many moons of a super-Jovian gas giant, they’re fascinated by the electrically-based life forms and ecology of this bizarre world. What they discover next is unprecedented…in so many ways.
Concept SF 20K 67

The top of the pipeline is pretty well set. Bitter Days will be the first story completed. However, it’s Episode 1 of a 5-episode serial. The serial is complex enough that I really can’t release any of the episodes until the whole thing is complete, which means that it most certainly will not be the first story that I self-publish.

The Rooftop Game will be the next one completed. It is a stand-alone story, although I do expect to do more stories about the Royal Bodyguard in the future. It will be publishable…but I’m rather hoping to aim that one at a multi-author fantasy anthology (possibly one that I edit myself).

The Good Book will roll out after that. It’s stand-alone, so it will probably be the first one that I publish. Interestingly, though, it’s best classified as “magic realism” or “slipstream” so it’s not necessarily the best advertisement for the sort of stories that I usually write.

After that, the pipeline gets a bit more jumbled, and the order in which the stories get completed is likely to change.

The Threefold Revenge is high on the priority list since it’s Episode 2 of the serial. It’s complex, and it’s going to take a while to get through First Draft. I’m in the process of wrestling this one to the ground.

The Silent Knight and Big Sky Country are both large in scope. My initial attempt at The Silent Knight petered out, but I still believe in the story. So both of these are going to spend some time in the Concept stage.

World-Building is an interesting project. I like writing it. I don’t expect to make much money on it. Once completed, though, it becomes an excellent credential for getting speaking engagements. I’m playing around with the idea of finding a co-author to work on this with me.

That leaves the two new SF projects, The Deep Dive and Discovery. The first is an action adventure story set during the lead-up to a war between the Inner Worlds and the Belters. The story is outlined and relatively straightforward. Discovery is based on the public domain world and flora/fauna created during the “Contact” series of sessions at the 2012 World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago. I’ve been doing a lot of fantasy lately, and these two stories will give me a chance to exercise some different writing muscles. They’re also stand-alones, so they’re likely to percolate through the pipeline a little faster.

Also, for those who noticed, all of the fantasy stories are set in the same milieu, The Thousand Kingdoms. So, Bitter Days, The Rooftop Game, The Threefold Revenge, The Silent Knight and Big Sky Country are all loosely related. That’s going to eventually be a big factor in marketing them all.

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