Posted on November 17, 2011 by Flames
Author and game designer Matt Forbeck recently announced the 12 for ’12 project, in which he will attempt to write a short novel every month in 2012. We think Matt might have gone just a little crazy, but we’re also pretty sure Matt can actually pull this off…so Jeremy LC Jones had a little chat with Matt about the project.
Um, Matt, what are you thinking?
I’m thinking I want to write and I want to self-publish. I’m thrilled with my current publisher, Angry Robot, but there are some projects I’d like to do that wouldn’t work with them. That’s what 12 for ’12 is all about.
I’m a fast writer, so technically I should be able to handle writing 12 novels in a year, especially if they’re shorter ones like these. I’m shooting for 50,000 words each, which is what anyone participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this month is shooting for. That’s still 600,000 words of fiction in a year, but I’m pretty sure I can manage it.
I also can’t afford to take a flying leap on this and not feed my five kids while I’m writing these books for a year, so I’m going to set up a series of Kickstarter projects to line up pre-orders for ebooks and hardcovers for the line. The first one is up already and runs through the month of November.
What excites you about doing 12 novels in 12 months?
There’s the sheer, insane challenge of it, of course. Just standing up and saying I’m going to do it garners a lot of attention. It feels like I just stepped up onto a stage and said, “Hey, folks! You’re going to want to watch this!”
I also like the idea of getting a lot of material out there for people to read as fast as I can. I don’t plan on sacrificing quality for speed though. Most of my novels get excellent reviews, and I’ve been quietly writing them quickly the entire time.
At the end of the year, I want to be able to look back and say, “I did that.” And then I want people to be able to enjoy those books forever.
In what ways does the short novel appeal to you as a reader? As a writers?
As a writer it’s great to be able to get into the story, tell it, and get out. Most novels used to be shorter, but the publishing industry has been pushing for longer books for decades now, knowing that some readers judge the books and the price they’re willing to pay for them based not on the quality of the story but on the page count.
Ebooks turn that all on its ear. As a reader, when I purchase an ebook, I don’t care if it’s an epic doorstop or a tauter work. I just want a good read. I actually prefer my ebooks to be shorter. It means I can read more stories in the limited time I have.
How much pre-planning will you do for each novel?
I’ll have a full outline prepared for each book before I start. I’ve done that with every novel I’ve written, and it does wonders for keeping me on track. It also cuts down on the chances I’ll have to throw out chunks of the novel because I didn’t know where I was going with it.
Will this be a series or standalones? Will you have recurring characters?
I’m planning on having at least three trilogies out of this set. The fourth set of books might be a trilogy too, or it might be three standalones instead.
Which genres are you going to write in?
The first trilogy is based on my Brave New World tabletop roleplaying game that Pinnacle and AEG published back in 1999 and 2000. That’s a dystopian setting in which superheroes exist but have been outlawed for decades, unless they work for the federal government. The US has been under martial law that entire time, and the heroes are trying to set things right and restore justice to the American people.
The second trilogy takes place in a setting I call Shotguns & Sorcery, a kind of fantasy noir. I’ve written a couple shorter pieces in it already, and I’m itching to take it for a stretch with some longer works.
How will this impact your regular writing work? How’re you going to balance this with everything else?
I’m still going to be writing the Magic: The Gathering comic for IDW, and I have a couple of world-building projects I’m working on for other people that will take me through the end of this year and into the next. While all this writing will take a good chunk of my time, it shouldn’t swallow all of it.
Keep in mind that writing is my full-time job. That means I don’t have to worry about a day job getting in my way. This is my day job.
Do you have any advice for writing clean prose quickly?
Have a strong outline and characters you believe in before you start. This makes everything easier. Also, don’t pause to revise while you’re writing. Sprint toward the end as fast as you can. You can always polish your prose later.
What’re you going to do with all these manuscripts when you’re done with them?
I’m planning to publish them as ebooks and print-on-demand paperbacks. Part of each Kickstarter I’ll run for the project will be the chance to grab them in extremely limited hardcover editions too. I’d also be happy to shop the print rights around, but I want to make sure I can get these into the hands of readers fast too.
Any parting words?
Be sure to stop by my Kickstarter page for the first trilogy for more details about it and the entire 12 for ’12 project. If you don’t think I can manage this, that’s fine. I want you to dare me to give it my best shot. Thanks for your support!
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