Back in January I set my writing goals for the year. This was great: I had a plan! I was excited. Motivated! And I acted on my plan. Everything was going fantastically well.
Until I got to the second short story … which apparently wants to be a novella.
For a while I thought we could work out a truce and the story would be willing to become a novelette instead of a short story, but at this point I know I’ve lost. I submitted the first chunk to my critique group the other day, and found myself breaking it up into chapters. The best I can hope for is that it really is a novella and not another novel. That probably sounds weird, but I was happy with my plan for the year. I was going to whip out this story and get back to the novel that is actually supposed to be a novel, but now I need to finish this one. And yes, I know I could put it down and finish it later, but I want to be more disciplined. I’m trying to fit in more writing time, make better use of the time I have, and stay focused instead of writing for a while, then sneaking in 57 games of Threes while “taking a break.”
In all fairness, I should point out that the novel I had intended to be working on right now also started as a short story. As did my book With Perfect Clarity. And several other books on my to do list. With every short story I write, I now think: please, please stay short …
There’s no “official” definition of what length qualifies as a novel or novella or anything, but there’s a good overview of all of this on Wikipedia. I’m going by the chart they list, which shows the definitions and word lengths that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America use for the Nebula awards. They are:
|Novel||over 40,000 words|
|Novella||17,500 to 40,000 words|
|Novelette||7,500 to 17,500 words|
|Short story||under 7,500 words|
My guess is that this story will settle down at around 20,000 words, but it is clearly stubborn so it will be done when it says it’s done. I’m enjoying writing it – the only real downside (other than it’s messing up my plan!) is that this story was supposed to be one of the five for my next collection, and it would have worked very well because it fits in with the ‘choice’ theme. Alas.
The working title for this story is The Warmth of the Crystal. I’ll revisit that when I’m a little further on. It’s about a woman who ends up with a crystal ball that shows her bad things in other people’s futures. Because she knows about these events ahead of time she can prevent them from happening – if she chooses to do so. But imagine you suddenly have a power to help other people, and you really just want to take a nap, or maybe you need to go to work. It’s not only somewhat inconvenient, it’s also a tremendous responsibility.
Speaking of responsibility, I should get back to the story. I’ll end with a happy dog photo.