The Between Book

I recently turned in two YA novels–one to my publisher, the other to my agent–and then I didn’t know what to do. It was the first time in all of 2014 I wasn’t on a deadline. I have plenty ideas for what I want to do next, which is great but also problematic. Do I try out one of these ideas with the November beast that is National Novel Writing Month? Do I take a couple weeks to reenergize? I can’t not write, but I also don’t feel 100% ready to throw myself into a new book just yet. I opened a new file and saved it as The Between Book.

The Between Book is my playground to keep my creative muscles flexed while I’m in-between books. The premise is whatever I want it to be. It can be a about a a boy with so many misfortunes that he thinks the gods of all religions must be in some sort of celestial court betting against him. Or it can be about a girl who is creating a coloring book for her one year anniversary with her girlfriend. ANYTHING! The only rule I have is that I must narrator-hop when one character touches another. This way, when it’s time for me to return to a contracted book it’ll also be easy for me to jump back into The Between Book in a way I wouldn’t be able to with a project I’m considering for publication. All I have to do is have the most recent character shake someone’s hand, kiss them, or punch them in the face. And boom, next character, next story.

There’s zero pressure to get the wording right. It allows me to experiment with style, different tenses, different POVs, whatever. And because I often feel like I have a waiting room of characters who want me to call on their names already and tell their stories, the other benefit of narrator-hopping is how it allows me to sort of “audition” their voices on this book’s stage.

I don’t know where The Between Book will take me, but I’m expecting many surprising and unconventional turns knowing it’s for my eyes only. Maybe something cool will come from it that I can share with readers. Maybe not. No pressure.

Is The Between Book something you can see yourself doing? Do you always throw yourself into a new book, even when on submission with agents and publishers? Or do you have your own method? 

14 Responses to The Between Book

  1. Dede Oct 29 2014 at 9:07 am #

    Brilliant! I love this idea and will definitely try it out. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Marc Vun Kannon Oct 29 2014 at 9:55 am #

    I do much the same thing with my fanfictions. I’m rewriting seasons of a TV show, and each episode has it’s own tone, some more dramatic, some more action, some more family, or with varying amounts of humor. It’s not a between book, since I have no agent, no publisher, or anyone waiting on a deadline for anything I write, except maybe some of the people who enjoy my fanfictions. (They’re quite vocal at times.) So my ‘between book’ is really just my next book. I have other stories waiting to be done but this fanfiction epic is a monster that won’t let me go just yet.

    • Adam Silvera Oct 29 2014 at 11:05 pm #

      Having an agent and publisher isn’t necessarily crucial to having a “between book.” It’s still beneficial for sanity more than anything else. Something you turn to when you don’t necessarily want to devote the same amount of attention and heart you would in a project you care deeply for because those books – as I’m sure you know – can really exhaust you. The Between Book is basically recess.

  3. Julie Oct 29 2014 at 10:10 am #

    This is BRILLIANT! Thanks for sharing your method, Adam!!!

  4. Rochelle Oct 29 2014 at 11:24 am #

    that’s awesome! I love how you head-hop to keep your voice fresh and ready for “real” stories when it’s time to return to them.

  5. Rowenna Oct 29 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    This is great! Honestly, it’s probably not for me–I’d rather move on and write something new because I have so many shiny ideas it seems a shame not to play with them instead of something that’s for me, by me. I like writing something new while submitting–one never knows how that submission round is going to pan out, and having a good start on a new project is, for me, the best antidote to bad news. Maybe I’m just a touch type A, but I’d rather write The Next Book than The Between Book.

    • Adam Silvera Oct 29 2014 at 11:08 pm #

      “…but I’d rather write The Next Book than The Between Book.” Beautifully said, Rowenna! I’m like you, I totally have a lot of ideas. At first it seemed crazy I would take time away from them, but I needed it for my sanity. I sometimes feel like I’m moving too quickly that by this time next year I could see myself juggling three different books in different stages. Really love what you said here, though, and thanks for reading the post! 🙂

  6. Abby Oct 29 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    I love your “rule” for writing the Between Book, since it seems like a good way to keep the stakes low and just have fun. Personally, I’m more in Rowenna’s camp; I have so many exciting ideas that I just can’t wait to work on the next one. But I do a fair amount of brainstorming and developing, and if the story doesn’t go somewhere, then I can set it aside and work on something else. I guess that’s my own way of being Between projects.

    • Adam Silvera Oct 29 2014 at 11:11 pm #

      Hi Abby! What you said here about setting aside projects is also where I fail. I can’t NOT finish something without wanting to return to it so if I’m struggling it’s because I haven’t figured out the major key points of the story, which is ultimately frustrating for someone who drafts pretty quickly.And brainstorming totally counts! It’s essentially what I’m doing except with a more narrative approach versus bullet points, chapter play-by-plays, three act structures, etc.

  7. Jennifer McGinnis Oct 29 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    This is BRILLIANT!! As an anytime writing exercise. I could develop ideas for so many characters. I could go through a group of friends and tell the stories each of them is interested in, and then they could bump into a guy at the gas station, and I could go in a whole new direction. That guy could be at a restaurant and touch the shoulder of a lady from another country, then I could run off to that country with her as she travels to visit her parents. I could go all over the world, connecting characters by casual or purposeful touch. Brilliant! This could be one long, never-ending exercise. And whenever one of the characters seems to be needing a REAL story told, I could go work on that (I write short stories, so this is PERFECT for me). Thanks for sharing.

    • Adam Silvera Oct 29 2014 at 11:12 pm #

      “one long, never-ending exercise.” EXACTLY MY INTENT! I think you got the hang of this, Jennifer! Keep me posted on how it’s working out for you on Twitter. 🙂

  8. Stacy Couch Oct 30 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    I love this technique. I call it my “palate cleanser”: something written in a different genre so I feel no need to publish it. The rain in Spain is slowly melting my brain? Awful! And it doesn’t matter. As long as I’m writing and my addled brain is unconsciously prepping for my next “real” piece.

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