So when I first conceived of the Novelette Project, sometime late last year, the idea was to write three 10-15,000 word novelettes, all falling into the general bucket of the Fantasy genre, but all of different sub-genres. These would go along with Thorvald’s Wyrd, possibly to build a small collection.
I had thoughts for three more novelettes when I began, with a fourth idea coming in later, and five is a nice number, so I let myself have that leeway, and I gave myself December to get the bulk of them done. Three times 10,000 words is 30,000 words, which seemed like something I could accomplish in light of the totals I’d smashed out in October and November.
But something funny happened on the way to the coliseum: I only wrote one novelette. The next two became novellas. The final one is almost certainly going to get there too. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s often a problem I often have when I plot ahead of time instead of as I go along: as I’m writing the story, I fill in gaps that I didn’t realize were there when I made the point form plot or I think of other things that logically follow from things that I did plot. Sometimes these later get removed, but I feel like when I finish the first draft I come in fairly tight to what the story needs. Unlike the “old days” when a second draft might fill in a lot more holes than it does now.
My real problem is that I feel like I’ve deliberately kept the writing very bare bones for all of them so far. To make the worlds and the action more real might need a fairly significant word bump in a couple of cases. We’ll see what happens when I get to the editing phase. I haven’t actually finished the last one yet and I’m actually supposed to be getting ready to do the second pass edit on Universal Destiny, but that’s another story.
But, for those curious, here’s a tiny bit of detail on the novelettes that make up the project.
Thorvald’s Wyrd – Heroic fantasy borrowing heavily from Norse mythology, an Ice Giant sorcerer kidnaps the goddess of the sun. Originally projected as 100 scenes each 100 words long, the final version came to 129 scenes with nothing else I could comfortably remove. (This is the novelette that started me down this path. I actually wrote and edited it between late 2010 and very early 2011, serialized it on my blog, and got some great feedback on the story. After a recent reread with an eye towards publication, I thought it needed company.)
Trollsign – A little of my own riffing in the urban fantasy subgenre, following a trail that begins with a bizarre murder in a casino. There is a hint in the title. Estimated at 10,000 words originally, the first draft comes in at 12,536 and will probably grow by less than 1k on subsequent drafts as I flesh things out.
Last of the Sorcerer-Kings – Sword and Sorcery, two centuries after the collected armies of the south overthrew an empire ruled by sorcerers, not everyone has forgotten. I plotted this one at a generous 15,000 words and ended up writing 21,465. There’s a significant sequence I want to change in the middle that will likely lose a couple of thousand words, but the rest of the story will gain in description and descriptive action. Not sure where it will wind up.
A Gathering of Heroes – An epic fantasy story again plotted at 15,000 words, but winding up being the longest of the group at 22,031. A group of aging heroes get together to finish off the last quest of their youth, the one that never made it into the songs. This one needs the most work on subsequent drafts. There are big holes in the story where I had to move things along, and half a dozen characters that are barely used so should either find some use or be rolled into existing characters. If I pick the first option, this is going to go much deeper into novella territory and maybe wind up as a short novel.
Company of the Dead – I’m not really sure what subgenre bucket this one goes into. A necromancer raises a small army of undead super-humans in hopes of turning the tide in a war his kingdom is losing. My estimate on this one actually had a range of 12-15k depending on how certain scenes went, but I’m just above 15,000 now with the climax and denouement still to write. Probably another 3,000 words.
And here’s the thing. I don’t think I’m done after Company of the Dead. There are a lot of other subgenres and blendings I want to explore and the novelette to novella length seems to be a great range to play in for me. Trying to figure out if I want to try Steampunk, Superheroes, or Comedic Fantasy next.
Open to suggestions, and not terribly worried about how it will impact my other writing plans for the year. Everything is fluid.
Be well, everyone.by