First – my as-yet-untitled-novella progress. My husband (thankfully!) recently got swamped in freelance web/art work so was unfortunately not available to be my first reader, but my dear friend (and awesome writer) Madeline Claire Franklin agreed to step in. She is an amazing editor and plans to soon start taking on clients again after a self-imposed hiatus, so check out her website http://madelineclairefranklin.com/ and her work! She paid me the compliment of saying that she had planned to read my novella in a few sittings but instead sat down and read it from start to finish. Her brief impressions gave me two major decisions that I need to make.
1) Tense – as a challenge to myself, I wrote the story in third person present when I normally do third person past, and it works really well for the beginning of the story but less strongly as the story goes on. Not that I messed up the tense, but as I got caught up in the action, the tense stops working so well. The question then is do I bring the rest of the story up to the level of the first chapter, or do I switch it all to my own comfort level of third person past? While I started out writing present only as a challenge to myself, I feel like it adds a nice sense of urgency to the story.
2) The main character doesn’t have a definitive goal or dream that she is working towards. She is stuck in a rut, living a life that doesn’t make her happy and then gets sucked into this fantastic journey. At the end, she expects to feel something HUGE has happened but is disappointed that more hasn’t changed, but the whole point is that now she has gained the strength and conviction to go out and live her life as her own person. Is that enough motivation? Madeline felt that it could serve the story better to give her a bigger motivator. So I have to think about that.
Knowing that I’m kind of hemming and hawing on these two points, my husband is going to try to squeeze in a read of the manuscript so he knows what I’m talking about as I try to bounce ideas off of him.
In the meantime, I’m continuing to work on my next big project, which is a graphic novel (potentially webcomic) that my husband will do the art for. I am almost done with the first section of story. This is an incredibly rich world I am creating, and it’s a project that is still a year or two down the road so I’m not ready to reveal any more details on it.
I also went back and read through my second unfinished novel, which I haven’t touched in years. (My first unfinished novel was started when I was 11 or 12 and sitting in a box somewhere. Maybe someday I’ll reread that as well!) It is still salvageable. While it is definitely a little more simply written (I started it ten years ago!) than my current style, the characters and plot and world are still interesting to me. I need to decide if I want to add a B story to the A storyline or keep the focus on the one main character. I love when novels artfully move between characters (Sharon Kay Penman is an author that comes to mind that does this amazingly) but I am not sure I have the skill yet to attempt this. And in this world, I don’t know who else I would add. This novel is potentially the first of a trilogy with a probable prequel but could also stand alone if I decide I don’t wan to do a trilogy. I want to get the graphic novel written and over to my husband to start the art on before I revisit this novel, so we’re looking at another year or two until it’s ready to be released.
I also went back and re-read some ANCIENT writing – short stories I wrote in high school. It was cracking me up to read how preachy and opinionated I was as a teenager, but my dialogue has always been decent. My ninth grade English teacher read some of my short stories and was very encouraging, even though everybody always ended up dying in some horrible way.
Other than that, I’ve been ruminating on some short story ideas to begin after the release of my novella and poetry collection as I work on the graphic novel and then novel. It still feels like I’m crawling along, but work is getting done, and it feels great.