That brilliant idea of writing about the writing. I really wish I’d done that for Breathless because…
Today it’s the Fourth of July and I hate everything about writing.
Shit went sideways in a big way with Breathless. A lot more difficult to write than I initially thought it was going to be. Which is a problem because that story is already contracted and I am not backing down.
Here’s the premise– the promise I am making to readers– A soldier working night-shift in a cafe, where his primary job is to kill aliens under the planet’s surface that no civilian knows about, falls in love with his boss, who comes in morning to do the prep-work night shift is not doing. Eventually, the boss discovers the aliens and soldier saves him and they kiss and are happy forever.
The story should be pretty fun and quirky. The kind of thing that probably fits in an anthology about Love across the Universe. None of my usual Dark Romance, BSDM, trigger warning inducing hate sex bordering on violence. Breathless should be funny and uplifting.
It is not.
Right now, for some reason, my light hearted Rom-com in space begins like a Military SF/Horror. The first chapter has these soldiers underground, really tense, really dark atmosphere, then BAM! one of the solders gets his head bit off. Fantastic hook.
But Chapter Two is about the manager and is all butterflies and fluffy romance. It makes no Goshly-dumbed sense (full disclosure, I’m recording this at Starbuck’s and a small child has just sat down, intensely watching me while she licked the face of her pirate pop).
The promise I made at the beginning of the story does not fit with a romance novel. No matter how *snicker* killer that hook is, it’s not suitable for the story the rest of the work wants to tell. In a novel, there’s more time for the soldier to grieve, for the romance to develop above this bleak hidden world, but with only 10 Thousand fruit-caked words, I cannot do it. *laspe in to Scottish accent* I simply canne do it. Word counts suck money ball.
(And Daddy has taken his precious little face-licker away.)
Anyway, so the whole process of reigning this monster in, tightening it up, cutting all sorts of really fun and exciting bits that did belong in the story, but were not serving it to the max was a royal pain in the ass. I did not anticipate this in the beginning since I had such fire. I knew exactly where I was going, how I wanted to tell the story. I had the fun opening scene with the morning guy being snarky and funny and putting these giant cyborgs in their place, then the soldiers shamefacedly going in the back and there’s a giant alien getting hacked up and dissolved. Much better hook for a romance novel. That also ended up getting cut because I needed to get to the relationship even faster.
In a novella, you have such a short amount of time to bring it all together.
I wish I’d been writing about the writing so I could have caught all these little nuances and why it’s so weird and difficult to do what we writers do.
During the revision, I spent a lot of time thinking about the beginnings and endings and the promises we make that the ending has to pay off. And working that backwards so in the end everything that’s paid off had worked hard enough to earn the pay out.
And I wish I’d be recording that in real time, because I think this happens to me every time I write a novella (one of the reasons I want to write about the writing is because I have such a terrible memory for the process). I’d like to understand my own better. You know, anticipate how much writing a novella is going to fuck me up emotionally.
Because it does. I think my natural writing is novel length, and probably epic in scope due to the nature of the worlds I build. But I’m writing most novellas.
Writing things that are shorter is painful. When I’ve written short stories successfully, I’ve cut them off just before the point where they become novels. A character remains trapped where in a novel they would escape, or gives up completely in a place that would otherwise just be the inciting incident for their journey of self discovery.