Lizard Brain is a shared blog about Science Fiction and Fantasy from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

The Dogs Project: Introduction

by Daniel Abraham

So a while back, your friend and mine Shawn Speakman from over at Suvudu asked me if I’d be up for contributing to the anthology he was putting together as a way to help pay of his chemotherapy bills.  Naturally, I said I’d be delighted, and so yet another little project got put on the end of the list, and I started trying to think about what would be fun to do.  Sean is in some ways a harsh taskmaster, becasue apart from the bit where I write the story and give it to him for the anthology, it’s not like there are any rules.  For a lot of anthologies, there’s at least a theme to work from:  stories with romance, stories with detective themes, stories inspired by Fred Saberhagen.  Something.

So I struggled and I fidgeted.  And then I got a terrible idea, by which I mean I got the idea for a horror novelette that I find very uncomfortable and more than a little disturbing.  I even knew the name of the story:  Dogs.  That’s usually a pretty good indicator that something interesting’s happened.

I am going to try to make this picture intensely creepy

The normal thing to do at this point is that I go sit at my desk and I write the story.  but the more I thought about this particular one and how the idea came to me and how it would be structured, and the ways it fed back into some other conversations and posts I’ve don on the blog here, the more I thought there might be an opportunity here to do something fun.

So here’s the plan.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to write this story out here in public where y’all can watch.  I’m going to talk about where the idea came from, and what I did with it.  I’m going to walk through how I think about story structure with this as a concrete example, I’m going to write a draft scene by scene with commentary alongside about how I think things are going (and whether my opinion on that is even vaguely trustworthy).  And at the end, if I’ve got time, I’ll send the draft out to my first readers and tell you all what they said and how interpreted their critique.

The only things I’m not going to do is talk to you about it or post the final draft.  Comments will be open.  Ty will be doing the whole moderation thing, and when I’m done, I’d be happy to chew it over.  While I’m in the middle of it, though, is the wrong time to have a conversation about it.  And the final draft is what I’ve promised to Sean, so he gets dibs.  I’m hoping a few of you fine folks will be sufficiently curious that you’ll pick up a copy of Unfettered when it comes out so we can give Sean a hand.  (Plus which I’ve seen the play list on it, and there’s some damn good names.)

So the posts I’m intending to put up:

1) An introduction to the project (which you’re reading now)

2) The idea.  What it is, where it came from, how I want to approach it, why I want to approach it that way.

3) The outline.  I’ve got a thing for outlines.  And word count.  I have a really weird thing for wordcount.

4 through probably about 14) Individual scenes from the outline with commentary

15-ish) The first draft

16-ish) Feedback from the first readers in two parts

17-ish) Recap of the project and some final thoughts

There will probably be a gap between the first draft and getting comments back, but I’m going to try to keep the other posts coming in pretty quick order.  I don’t mind saying that I’m a little nervous about this.  If you’re coming along for this ride, I promise I’ll try to make it worth your time.  But the story is horror, and it’s going to get a little dark in here.  If you want to go do something else, I won’t think any less of you.  In fact, I’ll probably be relieved.

[ED: Sean, Shawn.  Something like that.  I suck.]


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12 Responses »

  1. Re #3. Yeah… you and word count have a very sick thing going on. 😉

  2. That picture is ALREADY intensely creepy.

  3. Oh, this is the one you mentioned on Twitter not too long ago? Awesome, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming posts.

  4. That sounds wonderful especially for the kind of reader who takes pleasure in knowing how the sausage gets made, like me. Some think it kills the magic, I find it often enhances it. Looking forward to be creeped out by your story!

  5. I’m on board for this ride . . .

  6. Ok, I’m in. Interesting that you are going about this a different way, how do you think this will impact your writing? Will sharing the process make it easier for you to deal with the subject or will keeping the draft for yourself make it more intense for yourself?

    How do I get notified that thee is something written here for me to ponder?

    Take care of yourself,

  7. After reading Leviathan Wakes, I’m willing to follow you quite a distance. Thanks for the invitation!

  8. Wow, this is such a fantastic project! Thank you for sharing your writing process with us! I’m very much looking forward to glimpsing at how your stories are made. 🙂

  9. i how do i start an introduction for a dangerous dogs project? 🙂

  10. Just wanted to say thank you for your contribution to the “Unfettered” Anthology. As a reader, knowing you did it for no financial gain means a lot. Thank you.

    -A fantasy Fan

  11. I picked up Unfettered mostly to read Sanderson’s WoT story, althought I’m also a big Brooks and Salvatore fan. The dogs story was pretty graphic. As a dog owner who feels a strong connection of friendship with my pooch it was hard to read. I do have a friend who had to rescue his dog from being attacked by 4 other dogs and it changed his life a lot.

    I saw a metaphor in the story being that cancer is your own body, that you used to trust, attacking you.