Original Work Which of these two stories should I focus on?

Discussion in 'Survival Reading Room' started by Buggzilla, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. Buggzilla

    Buggzilla Monkey

    Hi guys,
    I'm looking for some feedback. In addition to about a dozen other interests, I’m a wannabe fiction writer. I have been noodling around with two different post-apocalyptic novel ideas for the past month or so, and before I get too deeply into either, I’m looking advice on which of the two I should run with. I’m also looking for any and all feedback in general.
    1. Idea 1: A standalone book about a 19-year-old protagonist scratching out a living with his family on an isolated ranch in the desert southwest. He and his younger siblings become orphaned shortly into the book, and he must make a long, dangerous trek across the desert to get the younger kids to safety. I’ve got most of this one outlined and ready to write. Here's a link to the opening scene to give you a sense of the story and setting: Story Idea #1 - ABCPrepper.com
    2. Idea 2: This would be the first in a series about a lone-wolf type protagonist set in a post-apocalyptic world, also in the desert southwest. He is a widower and ex-cop/detective. Now in TEOTWAWKI, he gets by traveling from town to town, playing poker in dusty hardscrabble towns and backroom barrooms. Whenever the games and/or his wallet have dried up, he reluctantly takes on scavenger or ersatz detective/missing-persons work. I think of him as a modern day Travis McGee/Jack Reacher/Jim Rockford type, but set in a post-apocalypse future that feels like a throwback to the old West. I haven’t yet outlined even this first full story, but have ideas for a whole series centered around this character. Here's a link to the opening scene: Story Idea #2 - ABCPrepper.com
    Any and all advice/feedback/comments is welcome.
    Cheers, Mark "Buggzilla" W.
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  2. TailorMadeHell

    TailorMadeHell Lurking Shadow Creature

    When in doubt, flip a coin. Seriously write both.
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  3. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    First, I like you writing style. It's smooth and believable.

    I don't think you should choose either story over the other. I think you should write them both simultaneously. To make money from writing you have to have a lot of product out--like twenty stories at a time (or more) so that the 5% or 10% that sell in any given period will add up to your grocery bill. Or at least a good part of it.

    I suggest you change the lead's first name in Story2. You really can't use Travis, no more than you can use Beavis--it has the wrong set of connotations. It will also make people think you are (ahem!) drawing from J. D. McD. Give him a name that will become memorable in it's own right.

    You might want to pick a name that can be shortened to avoid repetitiveness. I'm working on a project where the main is named Zebediah--so I can call him Zeb half the time. It flows better that way. Your character could have a nickname, in addition to a given name, for similar variety.

    As you become more famous over time you sell ratio will go up. Stephen King is at 100%, I think. Until then, the object is not just to write as many stories as possible, but to collect as many rejection slips as possible. If you only have ten pieces done right now, all ten should be perpetually out, bringing in those yummy rejection slips, and occasionally a check.

    When you've sent fifty different stories to the same editor, he'll start to remember you. And once you get to be a "regular" he will be slightly more likely to choose your good work over a stone newbie's good work. Like he is already doing right now with some other writer. By the time you have a thousand rejections (too), you'll be the one reaping the benefit of persistence.

    How about Sioux for a first name? That way when the bad guys ask him if Sue is a little girly name he can say "No. Little girlies don't take scalps." (Ouch! Sorry about that. I get weird sometimes.)
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  4. john316

    john316 Monkey+++

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  5. pearlselby

    pearlselby Monkey++

    They both sound great to me too!! Good Luck!
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  6. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Cliff hangers... damn.... now ofc you have to write both ;)from your teaser on story 1, I don't get the reasoning behind why they cross the desert. Why is a new location safer for the kids after the parents die? I completely understand the why on the series aka story 2
  7. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Wow, two very different stories. Interesting. The first novel you incorporated a prepper tip (altered his clothing). And since it is in the Southwest, survival will be hard. I would be interested to read the rest.

    The second novel is more IMO a PAW novel. The characters are harder for what they have been through etc... the new lawlessness yet people have not reconciled their losses. That one would also be interesting to read.

    **btw- there was a typo in #1 (unsure if you wanted to know)
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  8. Legion489

    Legion489 Rev. 2:19 Banned

    I think Uncle Morgan is right, except for getting rejection slips. Ask what the editors want and write that/it up. I also get tired of the super hero/bat cave/Increadeable Hulk stories. How about some smuck that has bounced around, just learned stuff and gets the snot beat out of him every so often. I mean it is fun reading Matt Helm/Travis McGee/James Bond always getting the girl, winning every time, until it is the same story over and over and over (Out of the Ashes #4 through 57 or the Jerry Ahern "Survivalist" series) and you aren't sure which series or writer you are reading because they are all interchangeable. Work on both stories, see what happens and don't get stuck on one series/hero/story. If it ain't working, try something else!
    Buggzilla likes this.
  9. Buggzilla

    Buggzilla Monkey

    Thanks for the advice, but after 53 trips 'round the Sun, one of the biggest lessons I'm still learning about myself is I spread myself too thin. John Lee Dumas' advice to FOCUS, or Follow One Course Until Success is something I'm trying hard to follow these days. I want to focus on one of these and crank it out, then do the other. Just trying to figure out which I should attack first...
  10. Buggzilla

    Buggzilla Monkey

    Well, duh! Believe it or not, I hadn't even realized I'd, ahem, borrowed from McD! Going to change the name today! Cheers.
  11. Buggzilla

    Buggzilla Monkey

    Good question. I reveal the "why" of trekking in the next 3-4 scenes of the book, but basically it's because a) the area they're in has been becoming increasing dangerous in recent months, due to roving/expanding bad guys; and b) the boy feels he cannot take care of his younger siblings himself indefinitely, nor does he want to; he thinks he needs to take them to a distant relative's location, where he hopes to basically dump the kids and move on with his own life. Over the course of the book, he comes to realize the overall theme of the book, which is we need each other, family especially, and even more so in times of survival. The younger siblings he now sees as nothing more than an anchor, instead morph into his survival support "team." The idea with the book is to not only (hopefully) entertain, but impart basic survival lessons to the reader along the way.
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  12. Buggzilla

    Buggzilla Monkey

    First (and this is probably a dumb question), but what is "PAW"?
    Second, yes, I absolutely want/need to know about typos. It's still a rough first draft, but it's always easier to fix things now than wait. Cheers!
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  13. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    "Post apocalypse world."
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  14. Buggzilla

    Buggzilla Monkey

    For the first story, the idea is to in fact have the main character relatively smart about survival skills, but still make a number of fundamental mistakes that almosts get him and his siblings killed. He of course learns from these mistakes (and will, hopefully, the reader, too).

    For the second story idea, the main character is anything but James Bond. I envision him to be seriously flawed in both external and internal ways. He will have his own skills and abilities, but his flaws frequently sabotage his best-laid plans.

    As to asking editors what they want-- well, I'm not going the traditional publishing route. Been there, done that with non-fiction books I've written. In today's world, with ebooks and Amazon/Nook/Kobo/et al, and with the much better royalty structure on Amazon than with traditional publishers (70% vs. 15%, standard), I want to try this one on my own. Ergo, the "editors" I'm asking for advice are, well, you guys!
    Ganado likes this.
  15. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Post Apocalyptic World Sorry. Not a dumb question.

    IMO- I like the first one better. One thought that came to me is that there are many Young Adult novels that focus on this issue. YA PAW novels are huge. They get read by both young and old adults. I actually prefer YA novels compared to the adult novels.

    Think Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. Life As We Knew It, Tomorrow When the War Began. Then there is the classic- My Side of the Mountain. Kids can make mistakes and they learn. So if you write the first novel, you can make it YA and tap that audience.
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  16. Legion489

    Legion489 Rev. 2:19 Banned

    Well I was going to say I liked the second novel better and go with it, but when the Motomom34 mod says do the first one, then do the first one, for all the reasons she listed.
  17. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    For what its worth, I agree with @Motomom34 on going with the 2nd book for a wider audience and publish under Young Adult fiction. YOu have a better selling option then.

    I too like the 1st story line better but the audience wont be as wide.
    Buggzilla likes this.
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