Birth of a Novella

All about my first steps in a new direction.

A month or so ago I began writing a short story, more as a practice than because I had a specific story in mind. I wanted to try my hand at steampunk, and thought I might combine it with some experimenting with erotica. Thus, the story of Zona Mirrik, Daring Inventress was born! It actually began as the love story of Zona Mirrik and Isabella, Marquess of Chester. At around 5,000 words, I realized that Isabella was actually going to die, and that the story continued for a lot longer, and was certainly much more involved than I had originally imagined.

Frankly, this startled me. At first, I didn’t believe it. The story sat, unfinished, on my hard-drive for over a month while I resisted writing the happy ending for Zona and Isabella which I had envisioned. The realization came in a blinding flash. This wasn’t a short story! This was a novella! I immediately set about figuring out where to go from the point where previously I had left off. At this point, I did something else I’ve never done before. I plotted an outline for a story.

The weird thing is, I liked it. I’ve always been more of a “start writing and see where the characters lead you” sort of writer. But this was really very satisfying. I’d already written enough to get a bit of a feel for the main character and who she was, but then I was able to write a sentence, maybe two detailing each scene. Knowing where I was going really changed the way I look at writing. I don’t know if I’ll do this with every story from now on, but I suspect I certainly will with any longer stories.

So, I had the first chapter or so of the novella, and the plot for the rest of it. I had barely even begun on the next stage of writing when I ran across the website for Samhain publishing, and found this on their call for submissions page. A Steampunk Romance novella anthology. Talk about perfect timing! At first I thought “Ah, that would be nice, but there’s probably no way I can finish in time.” And then I found the submission deadline (April 30th) and thought “Whoopee!”

So, slightly less than three months to write, edit, and polish a 25-30k word novella. Piece of cake. My goal is to have the entire thing written by the time March 1st rears its head. Not too long after that I have a month of break between terms, time I will spend editing and polishing. I’ve so got this.

The only worry I have is whether Samhain will accept it, and what to name the darn thing.

Thought for the Week: “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” Erma Bombeck

Currently Reading: A Treasury of Royal Scandals by Michael Farquhar

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3 Comments

  1. Misanthropology101 said,

    February 8, 2010 at 2:07 am

    When you get a first chapter/big segment/whatever written, be sure to send it out to some folks and say “look this over and tell me if I’m on some totally impossible track here, please.” Tell ’em to skip the line-by-line and copy editing (since you’ll likely revise anyway), but get a sense for whether people are immediately engaged, like your characters or your lot, etc.

    • Bookewyrme said,

      February 8, 2010 at 11:27 am

      Well, I happen to have a big segment (approximately the first 3 and beginning of the 4th chapter) finished. You volunteering? 😀

  2. Misanthropology101 said,

    February 8, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I’ll look at whatever; you know that. Meant “your characters or your plot” in that last sentence above, but I hope that was clear from context…anyway, send as much as you like; I just think it’s very valuable to get five or ten people’s feedback on “is this overall project interesting or at least saleable” before putting too much time and effort into things. The odds that you made some crippling mistake early on are small, but why take the chance? Send out however much you think it takes to get a good sense for the work (and if it takes a giant, 20,000+ word chunk to get the good sense, you might have your answer already…)


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