I spent most of February doing research for Tokyo Inferno rather than actually writing it. Is that procrastination? Probably, although I didn't feel like scribbling the rest of a draft and then dumping a good part of it because I didn't know diddle-all about what had been going on in Japan at the time.
The book Yokohama Burning was a major source of insight. A good chunk of it is about the Westerners in Japan at the time, but there was a whole chapter on Tokyo itself that made me plant quite a few Post-Its in the margins.
To my surprise, most of my original instincts about what to put in or leave out seemed to be on target. One character will either have to be changed or revised entirely, depending on what conclusions I come to. Fortunately it's not one of the main characters, just someone who occupies a role that might be better served by using someone else already established. It's going to be one of those things that I think I can only work out by actually writing that part of the story. Musing about it "offline" is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle by putting the pieces in the box and giving it a good shake.
If all goes well, I should have a full draft by the end of April or so — plenty of time to clean it up and get it into shape for the final quarter of the year.
What I'd love to do — and this is really iffy, but I'm tossing it out here anyway — is make the first section of the story available as a teaser when it's ready. It would be essentially the same thing as the teasers I have up right now for The Four-Day Weekend and Summerworld — about the first 30 or so pages, maybe with some editing for readability.
Another idea. (Uh-oh!) After this, I have about two or three other pieces of work that I could dive into. Since I've only got two arms and ten fingers and no direct neural input for this thing, I can only write one of them at a time. My idea was to create "taster" versions for each project as above, post them, and get feedback for a couple of months from people about which ones they most wanted to see.
Let me know what you think!