Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Bastion vs Thorns: Why Bastion is Winning
I got a complaint that I haven't updated Mind the Thorns.
That tells me a lot of things. First it says that someone is actually reading it. That rocks. Second it says that someone reads it and cares enough to want to know what happens next. That also rocks. Lastly it means that not only do they want to know what happens, they also are willing to go out there and ~ask~ for more of it.
I really need to work on it.
However, since the launch of Bastion, it has only missed one update for Spring Break and is currently on pace to keep going without interruption. The real issue is: Why?
First I want to look at time frames.
When Mind the Thorns launched, it was my only web fiction, and I was not working on anything but my writing. I had the kind of time to sit down every Friday and pound at the keys for five to six hours, nonstop to create the next chapter. This meant I was able to keep a schedule of posting a chapter on Sunday, having an open poll for four days, and then spend the fifth day on the first draft of the next chapter. I had two days to revise and then post.
When the school year started and my Summer of Free Write was over, I realized quickly that I just could not keep up that pace. I wanted to, but it was not going to happen, not without sacrificing other things in my life.
Already I was behind the eight ball.
As I shifted in an every other week mind set I realized something else: I could probably do a chapter every week if I had a chance to work ahead when things were slow and then catch up later. In short I could do it, as long as I had a buffer, which I am lucky to have with Bastion.
And that's the first big difference with Bastion that sets it apart from Mind the Thorns. When I have creative inspiration I can write two or three chapters of content and have them ready and waiting to post. I know where the story is going and I can plan accordingly. And if a chapter is not gelling in word as it does in my mind it's not hard to simply push it aside for more stories that do gel as I write them.
Mind the Thorns, on the other hand, has been an affair of uncertainty. I have my rough outline but I can't start writing the next chapter until the polls close and I know just what the readers want me to do. And what in turn does, is sap my momentum. I also takes away the little things that keep the writing going.
As Bastion rolls along I may write two chapters out, but I also plan out eight. I have my outline of each chapter and what themes I want to hit on, which POV's I want to cycle through, and I can constantly be tweeking that schedule. It means when I get fifteen, twenty free minutes I have the chance to do something related to the project. For Mind the Thorns I don't have that micro investment.
And while I love my beta readers for Mind the Thorns, the project team for Bastion is simply bigger. If I don't have an update ready to push up, I am forced to push back the contributions of others. I feel a much stronger need to keep posting and keep providing content both for the general audience but also for my team of actors and actresses that have volunteered their time and energy to help make Bastion the unique Web Fiction experience it is.
I would like to blame it on the genre, that Alien Apocalypse is more interesting. That's not the case. I love the story of Regan and her quest for answers about her own undeath. I think it's a very compelling vampire story. I think Bastion is equally interesting and complex in its own way. So please, dear reader, do not think it is because I love one of my children more than the other.
Then there is a final, personal factor. At work I've embarked on a new style of teaching and it is proving to be a massive drain on my creative energies. Rather than having an hour every few days to myself, I'm working until I absolutely have to leave, and then coming home and working more. By the time I've sat down at the computer the last two weeks, I'm too tired to do much more than shoot aliens in someone else's story, rather than generate prose about the shooting of aliens in my own.
I do hope that things change soon and that my time becomes my own again. I miss Regan and I know she misses me. But so do Gunny, Al, Angel, and a few so far unnamed characters.
I really want to thank everyone for their support and offer my assurances that these stories will continue.