I went to bed last night unsure of what was wrong with the final story in the Thule collection. It’s supposed to be a romantic adventure to Thule with two new characters, but it falls on its face. I worked on the language last night but I couldn’t figure out how to fix this story itself, so I decided to cede the ground to my subconscious late last night and finish the edit this morning. I hoped that fresh eyes would reveal fresh solutions.
I dreamed I’d brought the story to my groups. One of my critique group members tossed the pages into the air and said “Nothing happens. Normally in your stories nothing happens for a while and then the story begins. In this one, nothing begins. And you have an entire section that seems to be from a different story.” Another said, “All of your action happens off-screen. Show don’t tell.”
One of my romance group members pointed at the story and said, “You have H1 and H2 and I see the Meet Cute, but where are the other beats? They didn’t earn their kiss. Jenny asked, “Did I get a bad copy? I think I’m missing some of the middle.”
Dean said, “This might make a good novella. You’re trying to do too much for a short story. Consider redrafting it.”
It was a bloodbath in the writing group in my brain. But I know how to fix the story. I know I need to redraft it paying attention to both the romance structure and the hero’s journey. I know I need to bring the exciting scenes forward. And I know the story doesn’t fit in the Thule book as-is. This is a bummer because removing it from the Thule book leaves that book shorter than I wanted.
What are the choices?
I can ask for another extension of time and write a brand new Thule story that fits in that spot. Or, I can make the cosmetic fixes to the story and publish the book with a bad story. Or, I can publish a shorter book.
A bunch of bad choices.
I won’t publish a seriously flawed story knowingly. It’s a violation of the contract with myself and a slap in the face to readers.
I’ve already asked for an extension once. Doing so again violates my sense of myself as a competent professional.
I don’t have time to write a brand new story by end of day, though I will consider doing it after I send the rest of the book to the editor today.
As to redrafting the story and turning it into a stand-alone novella or a short novel? I don’t know. Maybe that’s the best choice. I like the characters and the situation. I was pretty clumsy when I first wrote about Viveka and Eruk’s journey to the bears and didn’t understand the structure well-enough to pull off what I was trying to pull off. I understand it better now. The current short story (with some tweaks) makes a good outline for a novel or novella. That looks like the best way to go for this story.
I will send the shorter draft to Mia today and see if I can coax a new Thule story from my brain this week to fill out the book. I’ll begin work on outlining the current story to use it as a guide for my next novella/novel.
That is another aspect of writing groups you might want to consider. They get in your head. They talk to you in your dreams. If you’re going to carry people around with you all the time, best to choose good ones. Thanks to my romance and critique group family for being good enough to take over my dreams and smart enough to give good advice once there. I didn’t realize you had that power.
Here’s hoping your dreams are also productive.
Be well, friends!