Tuesday 28 August 2012

Planning Ahead: an Introduction

I said I was going to post about different aspects of This is the New Plan or, more specifically, aspects of the process which resulted in the book.

One thing that I decided was important was that all of the additional material - the cover, the blurb, the introduction - should be treated as importantly as the fiction itself. Those are the bits that people see first, so I didn't want to come up with them at the last minute. Surely they should be written and revised and re-written as much as the stories themselves.

Handily the introduction also talks about why the book is called what it's called, what the title actually means to me. It doesn't mention that it actually started as a working title, which I intended to replace, but it just fitted what I was trying to do so well that I kept it.

So here's the introduction, which talks about the book, but also a little about me and a little about flash fiction. =)


Why is this the new plan?

Well, you have to have a plan.

The title stems from many things. On a personal level, my original plan for this anthology didn’t feel right for me. I had intended to use stories from a certain time period, give them a polish and present them. But I felt that some were a little weak, and did I want to include stories in my first anthology that I felt were weak?

Absolutely not. What kind of a first impression is that to make?

So I needed a new plan. And this is it.

I spread my net over a wider time period and I decided I would select thirty three stories. Thirty three stories I was happy with, thirty three stories I felt were strong and that I could be confident in presenting to the world.

And if you’re wondering why it should be thirty three... I like the feel of certain numbers, thirty three, a hundred and one, a year and a day; I like their shape, the way they feel in my brain. A flimsy reason, maybe, but I will be thirty three when this anthology goes on sale so it holds extra meaning for me.

I started writing as a teenager and I have always believed I would be published, without giving much thought exactly to the how. The world of publishing is changing. Electronic books are flourishing. Traditional publishing is mutating and physical books are waning, though, I truly hope, not failing.

The landscape stories inhabit is shifting. The old plans are no longer reliable.

They say that every tale has already been told, and yet a new story will still manage to surprise us, charm us, scare us. The trick is to find new ways, new wheres, new whens, to tell the old stories.

So the title is also a reflection of the stories themselves. My stories have an undeniable basis in traditional genre fiction, but I believe they do something different too. And flash fiction lets me throw new ideas around, it lets me experiment and play with genres, characters and preconceptions. Flash fiction is ideal for the easily distracted, attention hopping, ‘what’s next?’ iGeneration mentality.

The trick with flash is to let people fill in the gaps. To provide them with enough pieces that they can imagine the whole picture, and make those pieces shiny enough that they enjoy imagining the worlds and lives that spill out on either side.

People absorb so much fiction these days that their heads are full of templates and archetypes that just need fleshing out and twisting in some small way to create something new. I just need to point them in the right direction. Take the old and give it a new twist.

And I’m having fun! After all, if I don’t enjoy my writing why should anyone else? I try and capture that sense of discovery, wonder and surprise that I love in what I read, and I try to give that back. I hope I’ve succeeded.

So... flash fiction, genre mash-ups, excitement.

This is the New Plan.


And you can read a review of This is the New Plan over on post-apocalypse blog In Case of Survival. =)