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Building my next novel brick by brick... with a little help from my friends at Vocal

Vocal #200: 2

By Raymond G. TaylorPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 5 min read
Image constructed by author using Dall-E-3

January has been a great month for me so far, and a fantastic start to 2024 – at least as far as my writing is concerned. I am delighted to be have been honored with two Vocal top stories. One is for an entry in the Abecedarian poetry challenge, the other an entry in the '#200' .

This article is my second submission to the #200 challenge

I have also entered the whodunit challenge with a slightly off-the-wall approach that has, so far, been well received. So much so, that I have started to think about whether the story would make a good novel. Difficult to answer that until I have written some more, and so this is just a statement of my best intentions, layered with some cautious optimism.

Recent challenge entries mentioned in this article:

  • #200 challenge: Sorry, Vocal, but it's not all about you
  • Whodunit challenge: Dreams in which I'm dying
  • Abecedarian challenge: Abecedarian Arthurian

Writing the first #200 entry gave me some food for thought for the year ahead, as it should do. I am sure this was how Vocal intended it. My approach was to consider how I use Vocal, how I could use Vocal, and how this might or might not help my authorly trajectory, as I described it. In short, my approach was to separate my Vocal ambitions from my wider ambitions as a writer, putting the latter first. As a consequence, I have made some further plans that I hope will demonstrate how Vocal can help when it comes to writing and publishing work beyond the Vocal community. The plan is to develop my 'Dreams..' short story into a chapter series and potentially a complete novel.

Far from being a distraction, using Vocal resources can help develop work aimed at the wider world when used wisely

This suggests that, far from being a distraction from serious writing, using Vocal resources can help develop work aimed at the wider world when used wisely. Not only can I publish each chapter as I write them, I can also gauge interest and take feedback each time, both of which will help to develop the story. It will also help to encourage me to continue with the work. One of my great weaknesses is a short attention span.

My very first attempt at writing a novel, over 30 years ago, got me no further than the first few chapters. It was the same the other times I tried. Furthest I got was chapter 5 with an attempted novel that (writing when the Princes William and Harry were still little boys) imagined a time when they were all grown up and falling out with each other. Really!

Then, as now, my short attention span leaves me getting bored with any work that takes longer than a few weeks to complete. You could call it laziness but this is one reason (not the only one) why I prefer to write short stories. I really want to get to the punchline quickly, and before I lose interest.

My one and only (shortish) novel-length work completed to date is my wolfy adventure: Run with the Pack. This began as a short story written to a picture prompt provided by the wonderful Writers Unite! Facebook group in January 2020. Having written the first story, I thought to write a sequel, a continuation of what was a survival journey for a lone female wolf. It then made sense to continue the journey, which I did by writing and then publishing the book. Although, from Chapter 3 onwards, I had every intention of writing a complete book of the story, I thought of the job as writing individual, self-contained episodes. This way I had the satisfaction of writing the conclusion of each story at the same time as being able to continue the saga of the lone wolf and her struggle for survival, episode by episode.

Read: Run with the Pack chapter by chapter

Having done this once, I think I will always approach novel writing this way. Why not? When Raymond Chandler wrote The Big Sleep, he reworked several short stories from his Black Mask days. Likewise Charles Dickens published many short stories in magazines before he rewrote them into novels. In the 21st century, we no longer rely so much on pulp for our eyeball exercise. We could think of platforms like Vocal as the latter-day equivalent of the penny press.

Getting back to the question of whether time spent on the Vocal platform detracts from the more important job of writing for the wider world, I would say this. My aim, as stated in my previous #200 submission, is to rely on Vocal "much, much less." This does not mean I am not going to continue to use Vocal resources to aid my writing journey. On the contrary, although my focus of attention will be wider publishing, including print, I will continue to work within the Vocal communities to boost and support my print publishing efforts. I will also to continue to publish short stories and verse online with Vocal as my platform of choice.

Other stories mentioned in this article:

Thanks for reading!



About the Creator

Raymond G. Taylor

Author based in Kent, England. A writer of fictional short stories in a wide range of genres, he has been a non-fiction writer since the 1980s. Non-fiction subjects include art, history, technology, business, law, and the human condition.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (2)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Speaking of Run With the Pack, I'm so sorry Raymond. I know I'm many chapters behind and I did say I'll get to it soon but I've always has so much on my plate since then. But please know that I'll be reading it when I get some free time

  • John Coxabout a month ago

    Sounds like a great approach to me. When I taught English Lit, among other novels I used Tim O’Brians ‘The Things They Carried’ which could read both as a novel and as a series of connected short stories. Tim used different narrators who often overlapped on the stories they told creating different perspectives on individual events. It creates such a sense of reality that many of my students believed that it was a memoir rather than fiction.

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