I am always looking for interesting connections and coincidences – Burroughs built instruction manuals into his fiction … ways for seeing the world. Like watching a tv show where an agent is going under cover and getting Nazi tattoos while reading about social media platforms having problems with Nazis and not appearing like tyrants. And then an email update from a fringe website masquerading as a mainstream website talking about how America is in a state of mass hysteria.
Sometimes these things connect in an interesting way that allows me to come up with some interesting idea for my fiction, or it might trigger a lyric or something. Puns are a kind of connection; they are a tangential way of viewing something sometimes, and they have really helped me to gut an idea on occassion. I also use puns to throw people off-guard when I am writing a story – it’s interesting, sometimes people read a pun and expect a funny story, and then the story really is kind of serious, but the pun is also actually cutting to the quick of the thing. Games are the way for me to write and keep it interesting. Lately it seems that the game I have been playing is how many damned plates can I keep spinning.
I had the thought a long time ago about a distributed network novel, but it seems that the idea kind of outgrew a novel, and pretty much encompassed what I might, if I were a little more arrogant, call my opus (see what I did there?). I don’t know if the term exists anywhere else, but for myself I coined the term macro-series, which is basically a series that encompasses smaller series – the idea being that they all interlock together. This Burning World is immense fun to write, and it keeps growing.
Another way which I operate when I am writing is, if I read something and I get a spark of an idea I try to nail it down immediately. WordPress sites gave me a limitless place where I can start these things and interconnect them with tags. I believe people are following the tag around. Anyway, that first piece of the story is usually pretty dense and the rest of the book involves me unpacking the ramifications of that first piece of writing. Or the first piece is kind of loose but suggestive of a way forward, and it can sit there as an uncontinued story for years, until another story happens along and throws light on it – then we’re cooking on gas.
In order to speed up and better facilitate what may appear as a scattered approach to writing, I built a wiki, and it has been working. It’s kind of like having a jazz dynamic set to roll inside a certain set of rules.
Here’s the thing though: I am always looking to break established patterns in my writing; to find ways of avoiding getting stale, or samey, which isn’t necessarily the easiest thing, when stories and their connections start becoming more and more interesting.