I write short stories. I rarely write a story that’s longer than 2,000 words. Technically speaking, that’s flash fiction. I just don’t have that much to say. So, when I decided to write a novella, I panicked. A novella is a minimum of 17,500 words.
After my third cup of coffee and enough pacing to wear a hole in the carpet, I calmed down. What about solving this problem, this big elephant, by eating it one chunk at a time?
As it turns out, the elephants weren’t amused. I have a small office, so I had a whole herd of pygmy elephants, all shades of yellows, greens, pinks, and blues (ok, I have a brilliant
imagination). They stampeded.
I would, too, if I were on the menu. That’s why I stopped scuba diving. But, back to the novella.
I was working from a short story I had already written. I could fill in more of the relationships between the characters, more of the motivations. Maybe I could even add some new characters, and then kill them off. But then what? Should I send everyone off to Costco? Just a walk down the coffee aisle should take up a couple hundred words, right?
No, no, no.
This was not the way to get a novella published.
More panicking, more pacing. And then I came up with a plan.
First, write a section/chapter/whatever exactly like I write a short story. Worry later about exactly where it will fit in.
Second, write 1,000 word a day. I can do that.
Third, write until I’m tired, or until I don’t have anything else to write. I do that anyway.
I feel better now, and I’m following my plan. I was planning to rip up that carpet anyway.
Nolcha Fox blogs about life in a Wyoming small town, and writes short stories. Fox’s stories focus on (dark) humor, horror, fantasy, and science fiction.
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