…and it feels terrifying. I was supposed to spend the day making my revision notes for the next draft of book 3. The idea of diving back into this project has sort of been…haunting me to say the least. I haven’t looked at it since April 5th and that was seven weeks ago. In that time I finished writing the first draft of book 4 and did another line edit of Orphans of Paradise. The first was a nice distraction. I flew through that manuscript and had so much fun writing it. But then I got back to Orphans of Paradise last week and everything sort of fell apart.
I hadn’t read the story in two months and in the meantime I’d been working on two, totally new projects. I’d been writing every day, more than I ever had, and I just hit this growth spurt as a writer that sort of came out of nowhere. So when I read over book 2 I didn’t just read it with fresh eyes, but new ones. I’m a different writer than I was in February and even though it may not seem like a lot of time has passed since then I’ve changed so much.
On the plus side, that’s the ultimate goal, right? I’m growing, getting better, and I couldn’t be happier about the new direction I’m heading in. But on the flip side, I found so many issues with Orphans of Paradise. Not the story or the plot, but my style. It’s evolved since then. It’s more streamlined, more coherent. And that’s something you can’t just change about a book overnight. So I still have a lot of work to do. More work than I thought I’d have to do so close to the expected publication date.
And while I should be glad that I found these problems now rather than later, I have all of these new trepidations about re-reading book 3. Because what if it’s really terrible? What if I hate it? What if there is not one sentence worth salvaging?
I know I’m being a little over-dramatic. But I am honestly terrified. Hence this blog—just another way of stalling. Anyone out there ever experienced this? How do you keep up your moral when you have a revelation like this over a manuscript you’ve been laboring over for almost a year? And how can you tell when your work is truly ready? Or will you always look back on something you wrote previously and be a little dissatisfied?
Orphans of Paradise is still waiting on feedback from my last few beta readers and I still haven’t made a decision about the companion novella. This has of course delayed designing the cover because I’m still not sure yet whether I’ll need one or two or if I even have the money for right now for both. I’ve been working on this piece for so long all I want is for someone to tell me that it’s finished. That it’s finally ready! That I can abandon it and move on to obsessing about something else.
The homestretch is definitely reminding me how stressful self-publishing is and how alone in the actual decision making I truly am. I love being indie but prepping a manuscript for publication—formatting, doing the final copy edit, designing the cover, promotion—is one of the most stressful parts of creating a novel and one I could definitely do without. I will be forced to come to a decision though regarding the novella by the end of this month whether I want to or not. But regardless, Orphans of Paradise should be available on Amazon in June so look out for that!
has officially taken a backseat to book 4—my first attempt at a serial. It’s also my first attempt at YA. I have to say, I’m not particularly comfortable with this genre. I’m struggling with maintaining my character’s young voice while at the same time avoiding the shallowness I’ve come to find in some YA narrators. It’s just not dark enough for me yet. The mood not as haunting as I’d like it to be. But it’s only the first draft so I’ll give myself a break.
By the way. Anyone know the average word length of YA novels these days? I’ve heard 50,000+ but for some reason that feels short to me. I’ve already clocked in 34,000 but the pacing feels like it’s on hyper drive. My other projects tend to be a little slower but I’m wondering if YA readers prefer the faster pace and if that’s one of the signatures of the category. I read YA occasionally but the genres vary so I’m not sure of the specific audience I’m trying to capture just yet.
Once the first draft of book 4 is finished—hopefully by the end of May—I’ll be diving into the final copy edit of Orphans of Paradise and then the 3rd draft of book 3. Hopefully I’ll get that out to its first round of beta readers around the end of June. But until then I’ll just keep plugging away on this YA novel, which still needs a title…
Oh and stop by this Thursday for some special news and this Friday for the FINAL installment of Free Chapter Friday! Also check out the first teaser from Orphans of Paradise on May 7th marking the return of Teaser Tuesday!
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.