The worst part about finishing anything is that it generally means facing a totally blank page (screen) to start something completely new. With a first draft of Hive behind me, it's important to clear my brain and go in a different direction. After a few weeks I'll go back and read Hive again. Hopefully at that point my alpha readers will have gotten back to me with some feedback. Then I can start a second draft.
But now I need something else to write. I had some choices in mind. Typically I keep several projects in mind at once so I can switch gears quickly if I run into trouble on another one. The current short list of ideas had three things on it. One was a page one rewrite of Joe Bob the Messiah. Joe Bob remains my favorite character that I've come up with. And based on feedback from anyone who has read it, I'm not alone in that view. But I've never been totally happy with the story I have him in. The core concept is solid but in practice it seems off to me. I'd try to lighten it up, make it more focused and a lot funnier.
The second idea was a horror story I've had kicking around in my head for years now. For some reason it started popping into my thoughts a lot more often after my mother passed away. I'm not sure what that says about me.
Finally, that zombie thingie I keep mentioning. Originally that was going to be a movie but now I'm seriously thinking web series.
And the winner is...
The zombie project. That one has been on the back burner for awhile because I hadn't come up with a story or characters. There were a few scenes but no connective tissue. But a couple days ago I sat down and just started writing a stream of consciousness document with anything I could think of for the scripts. And eventually an idea popped up. An idea that just got better and better the more I thought about it. And that's all I'll say about that.
The point of this post is to talk about the writing process a bit. I write with headphones on and music going. What I listen to varies by project. For Hive I listened exclusively to Bear McCreary's score for Battlestar Galactica. And if someone ever buys it and wants to make it, I will campaign heavily for him to be hired to compose the score. It seems only fair. He provided a lot of inspiration for it. The choice of that music was very deliberate. That score combines traditional orchestral with a mixture of less familiar instruments, and a distinctive percussion. I've read comments from him that he did that to contrast the human and cylon cultures. That related, in a way, to what I was writing so it became my personal score while writing.
Now that I'm seriously attacking this zombie project, I'm digging through my music library for stuff that inspires me. Which is tricky because I'm just starting to get a feel for what I'm doing. To be honest, I don't know half of what's on my computer. Every year I download the collection of songs from the acts playing SXSW, usually 500-800 songs each time. It's fun to set those to random and see what pops up. And that's how I'm building my play list. Every time something grabs me, it goes on the list. So far it contains no film scores or metal, which surprises me to no end.
That's it. Off to bed. I'm going to try this sleep thing I keep hearing about. I've heard good things.
Update (2010-09-13 07:51:11)
I see I'm not the only one to take this approach. Screenwriter John August has a pretty similar approach.