I decided it was past time I organized my various works in progress, so I gathered together all the incomplete story files I could find on my computer. I didn’t do anything about hardcopy stuff, only files on the computer.
I initially found 388, but a surprising number of them were actually alternate names — that is, I’d have the same story filed under two or three different titles. There were also several that were finished and sold and therefore no longer “in progress,” and some that were additional material for projects in another file.
And then there were titles I had listed where I couldn’t actually find any story — more on that below.
There were also some I turned up elsewhere that weren’t in the 388.
Anyway, after sorting, removing duplicate or otherwise irrelevant files, and generally getting them in order, I have 337 “work in progress” files.
222 files are now labeled short fiction, though in several cases they could easily turn into novels or entire series. Four of these are George Pinkerton stories, and three of those four are effectively complete — complete enough that I’ve posted them to my Patreon page and the subscriber-only portion of my website. The fourth (which had existed under two different titles) is woefully incomplete, and is based on a bedtime story Julie told the kids when I was traveling.
There are five non-fiction projects in various stages of development, about genre fiction, horror comics, trivia, music (that one’s probably just a short article, not a book or even close), and Christmas traditions.
There are eighty-six novels, ranging from a few vague notes to a 60,000-word fragment. Eight of them are Ethshar stories, ten are set in or around the Bound Lands, three continue the Tom Derringer series, one is about Tom’s son Johnny Derringer, two are sequels to Vika’s Avenger, one’s a sequel to “The Lords of Dus,” and one’s set in the same world as the Lords of Dus but takes place elsewhere at the same time Garth is having his adventures.
I haven’t counted how many are fantasy, how many are SF, how many are horror, how many are mysteries, or how many are romances, but I do have all those genres represented, and probably others.
There are three proposals for comic book series. One of them was originally planned as a collaboration with Kurt Busiek, but we both got busy and it never happened, and it’s based on public-domain stuff so we can each write our own versions without conflict. Another is a superhero project that will probably never go anywhere. And the third… well, it’s sort of cheating, because there’s a chapter and a half of the same story as a novel in another file.
I actually had a fourth comic book proposal… well, no. I actually had a couple of other proposals that I decided would work better as novels, so that’s where they wound up. In fact, all three of these might yet wind up as prose. I’m better at prose than at comics.
And there’s a computer game, except it was originally designed for 1980s tech, mostly text with 8-bit graphics. The premise of the game could still be fun, but I’d need to upgrade it a lot.
There are two plays. One of them exists as a complete detailed outline but no actual text; it’s a Shakespearean comedy, and uses several of his favorite gimmicks (cross-dressing characters, mistaken identity, people turning up after having been lost for years, etc.), and honestly, I think it could be a fun show. The title is “A Maid’s Merry Measures, or, Modesty Mislaid.”
The other play is a thought experiment, not anything that could ever go anywhere — a collaboration between William Shakespeare and J.R.R. Tolkien.
There are four works in verse — I hesitate to call all of them poems. I didn’t bother including any of my limericks, which all seem to be either very fannish or very obscene. (Oddly, never both.)
There are four descriptions for settings or concepts that don’t yet have stories to go with them, though I could easily come up with some.
There’s a single file for an entire series of short stories, two of which have been written and published — “The Hole Above the Parking Lot,” which gave me “An Infinity of Karen” and “Revised Edition.”
There are six titles that have concepts, but no real stories, to go with them.
There’s a list of literally hundreds more titles that don’t have stories attached, and that I didn’t feel deserved individual files yet. Twelve of these were included on some of my lists of unfinished stories, but I can’t find any record of what the stories were supposed to be, and I don’t remember them. One such title is the very appropriate “Gone Missing.”
And finally, there’s a compilation of stuff that had previously been recorded as “untitled story idea” or “opening fragment” or “two SF ideas” or whatever. This is five single-spaced pages of small print; I haven’t counted how many ideas are on the list. Some of them may have been incorporated elsewhere.
I can think of at least two stories I started that I can’t find anywhere, and I suspect it’s because they date back before I computerized. One of them I know dates back to the 1970s; the other I thought was much more recent, but I still can’t find it.
This is what I’ve accumulated since I got my first computer in August, 1984. When you think about it, I’m only generating about ten a year, which seems very reasonable, but they do add up after all this time.
2 thoughts on “Works in Progress”
Duplicate files can be a pain. My current computer was bought during a period when I was attending grad school. I have SO MANY duplicat efiles because I was working on this computer plus computers on campus plus the computer at my job, and variations of files crossed many times … including stray story ideas (or actual stories). Everything got backed up and added willy-nilly to my computer at home, “to be sorted later.” Three years later, I’m still sorting, a few dozen or a few hundred files at a time. And that’s with just being a hobby writer.
Some of my folders are nested about 5 or 6 times, with duplications on some, but not all, levels, so everything has to be looked at. Your files, at least, may result in fruitful productivity. Mine are their own hobby that I don’t like very much but have to keep on top of.
Still, revisiting them spurs the creative impulse. Maybe I need to do some more of that today….
It does spur something, anyway.