Today’s guest blog post comes to us from Jake Bible. He lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids. He is the author of many published short stories and the creator of a new literary form: the Drabble Novel. DEAD MECH is his first novel and represents the introduction to the world of the Drabble Novel, a novel written 100 words at a time.
Learn more about Jake and his work at http://.jakebible.com. Links to his Facebook fan page, Twitter and his forum can be found there, as well as his weekly drabble release, Friday Night Drabble Party, and his weekly free audio fiction podcast.
Join Jake as he rushes the Amazon Kindle charts on March, 1st and tries to push DEAD MECH to the top! Info can be found here: http://jakebible.com/the-amazon-kindle-dead-mech-rush/
I started my novel writing journey back in early 2009. I’d been listening to a lot of podcast authors’ works and I knew I wanted to get in on the action. The trouble was I had a great idea (giant battle mechs controlled by zombies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland), but I didn’t have a hook.
Why did I need a hook? Well, the one thing I noticed with the successful podcast authors was that they put an emphasis on innovation. Be the first at something, whether it succeeds or fails, and you’ll get noticed. I ran into trouble because there had been so much innovation with these multi-talented folks that I wasn’t sure how I could distinguish myself.
My break came when I discovered the drabble. A drabble is micro-fiction, a super short story written in exactly 100 words. I began to play with this form and realized I really liked writing in 100 words. Of course, being someone that can’t leave well enough alone, I wondered if I could string drabbles together to make a longer narrative. I played with this over a couple weeks and it seemed to work. And I found my hook!
Did this mean I dove right into writing a drabble novel? No, siree. I began to write random ideas down as drabbles: character sketches, plot points, bits of action, world building, etc. Once I realized I could take several of these and create the longer narrative then I dove in. The majority of my random drabbles ended up on the cutting room floor, but several are actually a solid part of the novel.
What is that novel? DEAD MECH: The World’s First Drabble Novel. The beast is about 136,000 words. That means I wrote at least 1,360 drabbles (all exactly 100 words a piece) to make the story come together. Epic would be a good word.
It didn’t end there. I podcast the novel, got an amazing reception from many listeners, generated a lot of buzz because of the drabble novel part and soon had a publisher come knocking at my door. Huzzah! I did it! I had my goal in sight!
I polished the manuscript, sent it to the publisher and had a contract signed four days later. That was May of 2010. I went from concept to contract in one year.
Then reality set in.
I had written the world’s first drabble novel. The editor in charge of checking over my manuscript nearly freaked out. He asked the publisher what I was trying to write and was told a “drabble novel”. Pretty sure there was a blank stare after that.
Why would that be difficult? Because each section is written in exactly 100 words, so the editor couldn’t just take out a word and add two or change a contraction without messing up the word count. The publisher told the editor to leave it exactly as is, check for grammar and punctuation only, but leave the word count alone. Easy fix, right? Not so much.
This meant my very first novel was pretty much going to be published verbatim, without any editorial changes at all. It received a proofreading run and that’s all. Now, in fairness, the manuscript was pretty well edited from the start. It had to be in order for me to get each section to exactly 100 words. Basically I had to edit as I went. But, was my work good enough? Honestly? I’m still asking myself that.
What it was, though, was the creation of a whole new literary form and I’m pretty darn proud of that. One day it could be the distinguishing point in my writing career and I’d be happy with that. The goal was to innovate and that’s what I did.
Will I write another drabble novel? Sure, at some point, but not right away. It is a very labor intensive, time consuming way to write. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of time right now.
Just regular novels for me for now, please. And we’ll see how long it takes the regular novels to get published. I’m guessing a little longer than one year from concept to contract. But you never know…