By Raji Singh, (My name is Raji Singh, although I am truly a Fiction.)
“Try to write most everyday- to stay in close mental proximity to your stories and characters. Vast inroads into your work will be the result.” J. T. ‘Blackjack’ Fiction, from, There’s a Story Born Every Minute, 1889
So many of your story ideas don’t need to be written as a novel. In this fledgling era of e-books, any length work can become a bestseller. So much of what’s out there as novel should rightly be in a different form because it doesn’t have the necessary amount of content a novel requires. In harsher words – so many of the words might be just be hot air.
Whereas if it’s in a shorter, a more compact form, it might possibly soar. Be objective about your work. Think short novel (some term ‘novella’), or short story, poem, sonnet, haiku. You may find they convey your ideas, emotions, conflicts, whatever you’ve got to say, more deeply, more vividly.
I started realizing this in my present position as chief archivist, and archeo-apologist of Fiction House Publishing Company, one of the world’s most successful ‘bookies’ of the 19th and early 20th century.
(I think its founder and longtime publisher-editor, my g-g- grandfather James Thaddeus Fiction, would grin at the term bookies as apropos, since he nicknamed himself ‘Blackjack’ to highlight his gaming nature.)
Blackjack’s chief writer was his half-brother William ‘Golden Boy’ Golden, predominantly a cowboy writer, but also a writer of mainstream, and historical; well, you name it. He developed and utilized a successful writing technique that served him well throughout his century long writing career:
See if you can incorporate this into your writing life – in a 21st century context of course.
He’d spy something on the trail, during a cattle drive watch, in a city or town, wherever. Throughout the day while he worked, thoughts of his story triggered from the thing, person, plant or animal he spied churned in his thoughts – developing, percolatin’ (another writer in this blog site quite appropriately calls it.).
This always kept him in close MENTAL proximity to his subject matter. It helped cut down on what many term, ‘writer’s block’, because he always had the percolated brew to be working with.
More importantly it helped him to delve deeper into characters, situations, and conflicts – by the simple fact that his material was always ‘close to mind’, readily ‘explorable’. This added precious immediacy to the work.
At night he’d write the story out, midst a campfire or lantern flicker. He had to finish it before the glint of light petered away. His ideas would be conceived as what today would be considered short to very short stories.
Always in his thoughts – ‘how can they be continually woven, linked together, possibly into a long tale, possibly a moderate-length novel.’ He’d pencil-line some sketches to accompany the story.
(This is an interesting side note. Even in the mid 1800’s his way to get stories to his editor in Cincinnati or Manhattan – he’d use airmail, or back then what we’d call today c-mail, carrier pigeon. Slower than e-mail, but e-mail quick compared to other delivery systems, mule teams – months, boat – weeks, stagecoach, rail or horseback – many days if it got to its destination at all; bandits dontcha’ know. Carrier Pigeon mail took less than a day – better than today’s express delivery.)
In my archiving, I am discovering hundreds of Golden Boy’s stories sold as small books. Fiction House artists had lightly touched up pictures or added a few new ones – the results – quick, small novels that could have small press runs, and if and when they became popular(which most all of them fortunately did) they’d have runs into the hundreds of thousands.)
(Side note – Fiction House Publishing (redux) will be re-releasing many or most of them in coming years – most haven’t seen the light of day for over a century. I’ll keep the public aware of the re-publishing dates.)
The books are topical to this day because he utilized emotions that are universal, timeless – something all who are writing should strive to do. By doing this your writing will endure the tests of time as did Golden Boy, 150 years; Shakespeare 600 years; or Lao Tzu, millenniums.
To sum up:
- Keep in close proximity to story and characters.
- Utilize universal emotions.
Wishing you the best of success in your writing endeavors!
©2012 by Raji Singh