The Big Idea: Jeff Somers

Over at Ficlets, we continue our Big Idea series with author Jeff Somers, who sounds off on his book The Electric Church, which is your “teched-out super-assassin has to whack an impossible target sort of against his will” sort of thing. Orbit liked it enough to use it to launch their line of books here in the US; yes, no pressure there.

Jeff’s discussion of his book is a good one, because rather than focus on the story elements (which there would be a number to play with), he’s instead talking about the mechanics of writing the book, and how who the novel was originally sold to made a difference in how they story got constructed. This is fascinating stuff because we all deal with this in one way or another. I know my books end up being within 10% of 100,000 words, in no small part because that’s my contractually-obligated length.

These are the things that people who don’t have a book contract in front of them have to think about — and this is what makes Jeff’s Big Idea piece worth reading.

7 Comments on “The Big Idea: Jeff Somers”

  1. I just finished this book last night. I picked it up in part because of the cover art. I kept it at the top of my reading pile because of the web site. I felt it lived up to the hype. One detail I particularly enjoyed was his fragmented chapter titles. I look forward to more from Jeff Somers.

  2. I liked it, but I have to say it was not the strongest thing I’d read recently. Nothing really ground breaking, but a solid story, lots of action, good plot, and interesting characters.

  3. So, Scalzi…. what about you?

    Wen you site down to write book-length stuff, are you knockin’ around and bouncing into things, or do you have marks that you try to hit in each chapter?

    In my own (unpublished, thank gawd) efforts at longer-length writing, I’ve been experimenting with different approaches, and what I’m finding most promising is to focus first and foremost on an *emotional* arc. It feels a little cruel at times (okay, it feels a *lot* cruel: has he suffered enough? no! pile on more rocks!) but I’m beginning to appreciate the results.

    It’s remarkably freeing, in that I’m open to most anything that might happen, as in, “What’s the worst possible thing that could happen right now? No, worse than that! Yeah… that’s it. Write it!”

    (And no… I’m really not trying for a series-of-unfortunate-events type formula. Sometimes I ask, “What would give this guy bliss?” And sometimes I let him have it. For a moment, anyway.)

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