…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 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.