Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Don't Like Boxes

Actually, that title is kind of a lie. As far as paper boxes go, I have what could be called a minor obsession with them. I like having all shapes and sizes of boxes on hand. I collect them like some people collect coins. But when it comes to writing? Yeah. I don't like boxes at all.

I'm not fond of genre boxes, and I have serious issues with writing for a word count box.

That isn't to say I don't respect word counts, I do. To say a novel should be between X and Y thousand words, I'm good with that (unless X and Y are really close together, in which case I do this --> O.o). Anyway, in trying to write a YA novella, I discovered that I can't do that very well. Some people are probably staring at the screen kind of funny right now because they know the other me (the one that writes for adults), writes a lot of short stories and novellas. This is true, and I can do short stories pretty well, but the novellas? Those just happened to fall into that word count. I didn't plan to write them that way.

So fast-forward to this YA novella...

The story was inspired by a trip into this cave.
A publisher that really interests me was looking for novellas, specifically YA and new-adult. I'd had this story idea tickling at my brain since I went to Poland this summer, but I kept putting it on the back-burner in favor of projects I needed to get done. When the call for submissions came out, I looked at it again and thought to myself, "This could be a novella." So rather than taking October to plot my NaNoNovel (Plot? We don't need no stinking plot!), I wrote a 42,000 word novella. Which was... 2000 words too long for the submission call.

Like a good little writer, I went through and trimmed some filler words, tightened some sentences, etc. Got it down to just over 41,000. But I couldn't see where to fix it more. So I sent it to my betas-of-awesome. Here's the thing about having betas-of-awesome, even if they won't straight out say "you need to re-work this and make it longer", you'll know because of their distinct lack of woo-hooing that something isn't right. It took a sit-down with one of my peeps for me to say, I don't think it works as a novella. She basically agreed and said the story was too big to fit in that box. That by trimming the word count, I was cutting it down to the bones of the story. Apparently they're really great bones, but that's not enough to make a really great book.

Now the place is pretty...
So I took that box, and that submission opportunity and I tossed it. I'm about a third of the way through revising the manuscript without the word count constraints, and it's already sooooo much better. My heroine's backstory is more present, as well as why she's fighting so hard against her demons and taking risks. The antagonist has better motivation for his goals beyond his training. Dude thinks he's being the hero, and it makes him a much better character. And the hero... well, he was the one aspect no one mentioned building on a lot. But he's getting tweaks here and there as well.

Without the tight little box pushing in from every side, Rory and Ashlyn's story is so much fuller and more alive. It's rapidly shifting from a novella that I liked to a novel that I love.


  1. I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see where you're taking them!! :oD

    I am -so- very glad you're expanding it!!

  2. Congrats! Can't wait to read it :) Beta readers are the best aren't they! Someday I will bake mine all cakes... or something. LOL.



Tell me what you think