The Monster Story Conference

I just released a new novella-length piece of science fiction. You can download it for free over here.

The Monster Story Conference cover image


A bit of background:

I was going to start editing a novella I wrote last February, called “Monster Story (working title)”. It got good feedback from my first readers, but they knew and I knew that it could be much better. It sat on my hard-drive for months while I worked on other projects. Meanwhile I thought long and hard about it, and realized that to get it to the point where I’d be happy with it as a novella, I’d have to re-write huge chunks of it, rather than just do edits.
To make sure I had everything worked out in my head, I thought I’d write my notes down as a dialogue between three characters. Imagine a director, a producer and a script writer, sitting in a room, trying to work out the details of a new movie project, almost from scratch.

The format is no accident, as I’ve recently read and reread the Raiders of the Lost Ark Story Conference, which is the transcript of the first story meeting between George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan (the script writer) for that film. It’s a great read, especially if you already know and love the Indiana Jones movies. And who doesn’t? They come up with loads of great ideas, and quite a few bad ones too, but you see why the good ones made it into the final movies.

I was wondering if I could be just as creative as Lucas, Spielberg and Kasdan combined. How’s that for setting a lofty goal?

So I thought, “If this works, it could be a fun creative writing exercise, and if not, at least I’ll have a good set of notes for the Monster Story rewrite.” And to make it more interesting, I gave the different characters different motivations, and story to play out between them over the course of the conference.

And so I began. It’s now less than four days later, and I finished a 35,000 word manuscript, which is just as long as the original “Monster Story” novella! Yet I think it’s a much better story. And it’s a much more interesting way to tell the story too.

I decided to edit it and release it online right away. Why not? It’s an experimental piece of fiction, but one I think works. The style of writing, which is nothing but dialogue, but not a script as such, is something I’ve done many, many times in the past. It came very naturally. No wonder I knocked out 10,000 words a day for three days. It has an energy I really enjoy.

And now that I’ve got the story locked down tight, even if it’s from the point of view of a movie script, I’ll probably write a longer and more traditional novel, the definitive version of “The Monster Story”, before the end of the year.

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