So I couldn’t help myself. I was supposed to be working on the companion novella for book 3 but for some reason I was having trouble finding the MC’s voice. It was feeling stale and like I wasn’t discovering anything new. And maybe I could have pushed through it but there was someone else in my head, someone new, someone louder.
I found myself waking up to her voice in the morning, some new snippet of dialogue fluttering in my ear, some plot twist suddenly appearing when I was trying to work on something else. I felt the story threads going taught, things being stitched into place. It was magic and I couldn’t wait to get started. So I did, temporarily bending my most important rule—to always finish—and diving head first into something new.
I’ve written 15,000 words in the past week. That momentum I gathered during book 3? Yeah, still hanging around, and thank God. It feels great to be starting something new, to know that I can. That I’ve still got it, whatever “it” is. It’s a relief to say the least. Though I still feel bad for abandoning the novella. I’m not sure if I’ll finish it, I’m not sure if it’s meant to be finished. I hope it is, if for no other reason than that the last paragraph (which I’ve already fleshed out in my head) is pretty kick ass. It’s hard because I know this character is worthy of her own stand-alone. She deserves to be heard.
But as much as I’m against abandoning things before they’re complete, I’m also against abandoning writing altogether. Especially when I’ve reached some kind of creative stalemate with a specific project. Sometimes I need a break, to recharge a little bit and give my brain a rest. But sometimes taking a break rather than writing through the fatigue is one of the worst things you can do.
I’m not saying to keep beating a dead horse. But I am saying that maybe it’s ok to give yourself permission every once in a while to choose fun over responsibility. To indulge in something that reminds you why you love writing in the first place. Because let’s face it, there comes a time in the writing of every project where you not only loathe the thing but you probably hate yourself a little bit too for conceding to suffering that is entirely self-imposed. And while the suffering is necessary so is the joy which is why bending the rules every once in a while to accommodate that won’t just make you a better writer, but a happier one.
Orphans of Paradise should be close to completion but I’m getting some mixed signals from my beta readers. There are two alternate story threads scattered throughout the main plot which combine for a total of 4 POVs—the two MCs and two minor characters whose plots intersect in the latter half of the book. The consensus has been that they’re well written and they’re interesting but something about them feels disconnected and distracting from the story as a whole.
A few readers suggested lengthening them to help ground them more in the story. Others have suggested combining the two minor character’s POVs into one. And someone else has suggested cutting them altogether. Obviously my ego is much opposed to the third option. Not because I don’t want to do what’s best for my story. I do and I will. But because I really love them (how many times do you think writers say that a day?) and I think there’s something to them; something that gives the main story an emotional depth and diversity that I’m afraid it might lack otherwise.
But the last thing I want to do is stand in my own way by presenting a story that’s difficult for people to follow and therefore connect with. So I’m considering turning these threads into a companion novella. I’ve never written a novella before. I’m currently attempting one for another book but still I’m no expert. There’s the issue of length—will ten chapters or so be too brief? I’ve read that novellas can run anywhere between 10,000 to 40,000 words but that sure is a lot of wiggle room. What do readers expect from a novella as opposed to a novel? Is the story thread strong enough to stand on its own?
Anyone out there written a novella? Can you clue me in to some of the rules or tricks of the trade that may be different from novel writing? Most of the companion novellas I’ve seen are extensions of a novel but maybe from another character’s POV or a means of providing more backstory. An organized collection of qualifiers and leftovers if you will. And everyone loves leftovers? Right?
I’m confused to say the least, and incredibly torn. I’ve made huge cuts to a novel before, but when you’ve been living with a particular story told in a particular way for so long, it’s really hard to part with that ideal. Especially when you’re not one hundred percent sure that it’s the right thing to do.
I’m waiting on feedback from three more beta readers which will hopefully provide me with some kind of clarity. But unfortunately, what I think is pretty clear is that I’m not nearly as close to being finished as I thought I was.