May 23, 2017

A Novel(la) Concept

As you may have noticed, my first May post has been abysmally late. It was originally scheduled for the 10th, then I bumped it to the 17th (I felt that writing my final paper needed my attention that week), and yet here we are on May 23rd, and there is still no post. Worry not, gentle reader, for it will be forthcoming, and for your patience, you will be rewarded with three posts this week.

One post is a surprise, but the other is the long-overdue second installment of Love and Chaos. Not gonna lie, it’s wacky. Truth be told, I did not know what would happen in beyond the halfway mark, and my making-things-up-as-I-went, rewriting scenes multiple times (only to scrap them days later), and going back to edit it all is largely what caused the delay. But I’m okay with that, and here’s why:

Love and Chaos is the most prose I've written in a long, long time.

True, I’ve re-written plenty of scenes for the Styx Trilogy, but like I always say, rewriting is easy, writing is hard. I’ve been in a slump since I finished my third book, oh, about three years ago, unable to move on and really start a new project despite having dozens of ideas. Yet here I am, only five and a half months into 2017, and I’ve written 7,278 of the first Love and Chaos installment and estimate that the second will be about 12,000 more. That’s almost 20,000 words, meaning that once I finish the last installment, the final product will be at least half as long as my first book. In six months! That is a huge deal for me.

So if, like me, you have an incredibly hard time with the writing part of the writing process and are dealing with chronic writer's block, let me share with you what I have learned while writing this novella:

  • Set your sights on something short: Not all stories need to be novel length. If you have an idea, write it until you’re done telling it. I personally like novellas because you still have time to play around with longer or multiple plot points, but others might fare better with short stories.
  • Ignore word counts, focus on scenes: Word counts make me feel like a failure. I can’t make daily word counts, and I can’t write every day; that’s just not how my brain works, and it's not what my work and school schedule allows. What I can do on certain days is sit down and produce 6,000 words, only to go for a week with nothing, and then start writing again. I write scene by scene, getting at least one finished in a sitting, if I can. That scene might be 200 words, or it might be 3000, but that doesn’t really matter to the story, so it shouldn’t matter for the process used to create the story.
  • Break for brainstorming: Maybe you’ve finished the first three scenes, but don’t know where to go from there, or don't know how to get from point A to point C. Rather than worrying about daily writing or word counts, spend the next few days hashing out what’s going to happen in your head or on scratch paper. I’ve been spending a lot of time daydreaming about each subsequent scene in my story and have (shockingly) been to keep up a steady pace, writing about three times a week.
  • Let it be rough, and then polish it up: Just so you are all aware, Love and Chaos is still in its first draft state. I literally finished it the day I posted it, and will likely end up doing the same for the next installment, and the next. I was working with a deadline, with no editor. This is nothing like what I’ve been doing with my trilogy, which has been editing and re-writing with a fine toothed comb. Throwing my writing out there, when it’s still raw is actually very freeing. I’m not going to leave it like that, of course, and will actually be putting up the more polished version of the first installment when I post the second, but I’m okay with you all seeing my rough drafts for a while; think of it like an art blog where the person posts sketches of unfinished work. If artists aren’t shamed by their WIPs being seen by the world, writers shouldn't be either.
  • Follow your heart. Did I mention that this novella is wacky? Cause it is wacky, man. Is it very plausible? Not really*. Is there even an audience for it? Who knows? Did I enjoy writing it and re-reading it? Yes. Yes, I did. And that, my dear readers, is what writing is all about. Why create something that you don’t enjoy writing in the first place, and then feel nothing for once it’s written? If I hate it, so will my readers; if I like it, then I’ve at least pleased one person**. Is my story groundbreaking or beautiful or mind-blowing? No, but it’s entertaining, at that’s all I ever really meant it to be. It serves its purpose, so I don’t need to force it to be anything else.

And that’s all I’ve got. Rose Corcoran writes. What a novel(la) concept! Stay tuned this week, because there's plenty more to come.

*Note, however, that this same story is referenced in Outcast Shadows, and as it is told by Raina, a Styxian goblin, it is likely full of exaggerated details and complete fabrications. I like to think I’m capturing a bit of that larger-than-life feel.

**Plus, my aunt thought it was adorable, so there you go.

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