After reluctantly filing away my in-stasis WIP, I dug out another unfinished piece that I can finally complete. It was technically going to be the third novella for The Book of Lost Princes, but the plot proved to be more complicated than what a 20K-word piece could realistically handle. So Grave’s End took care of that bit, and the then-unknown story (tentatively called Eve of St. Agnes) had to be relegated till the right moment came for me to resurrect it. Looks like this is doable. It’s going to be longer than any of the stories in The Book of Lost Princes, and I expect it to hit somewhere in the high 30K-word range but no more than 40K.
According to JMS Books’ policy for YA stories, anything over 30K will also be made available in print. Which makes me twenty billion shades of excited because it’ll almost be like publishing a chapbook – but longer. :) I can live with not having an anthology to offer you guys next year as long as I’m able to stick to my goal of mastering the novella form.
So welcome Ansel Tunnicliffe, the fifteen-year-old hero of a new historical fantasy (gothic, too!). The book’s title is Ansel of Pryor House. Yes, it is official. I actually have a title before the story’s finished, and it’s rather mind-blowing.
And why am I so obsessed with the novella, anyway, seeing as how I’ve been writing and publishing novel-length fiction almost consistently since 2008? By and large, it’s because the length is proving to be perfect for me. I used to believe that novels are the only way to go, being the clueless publishing noob that I was. There’s so much to say, so many crazy worlds to immerse the reader in, and that requires more words. A lot. A damned crazy lot – but without going the way of those even crazier Victorians or Augustans and especially Samuel Richardson and his Clarissa magnum opus. As of late, I’m realizing that the longer the piece and the more room I give myself for elaboration, the more I end up padding the story, and I always have the worst time figuring out which passages or scenes are really necessary to the story. Hell, I feel sorry for my editor.
Maybe it’s because I’ve hit peak production, and my recent burnout has changed things beyond, you know, the point of no return. I find that it’s easier for me to lose sight of my purpose when I’m writing now, and I end up lollygagging with scenes and plot points that need to move forward rather than linger. I had such a great time writing all three novellas for The Book of Lost Princes, and I’d love to keep doing it, mastering the skill of making every word count and zeroing in on what’s important while keeping extraneous stuff out. True, the learning curve was nuts, but I managed to get it, and I miraculously managed to keep within those important limits.
At any rate, that’s the gist of my new set of goals. You never really stop learning when you write and publish stories, no matter how long you’ve been in the business. And you shouldn’t.