Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It's a Novella...

...or at least that's what it's looking like.

When I started this new project, I was a little intimidated by it. I'll admit that. The vehicle the story was going to use was not something I was expecting, nor was it something I'm used to. I thought it might end up being a short novel, or a novella, and now I think I have some confirmation of that.

Let me define my views on the difference, just to make sure we're clear.

If you ask an agent, or an editor, or a publisher, or even an author what the difference is between a novel and a novella, you're going to get several different answers. Generally speaking, a novella is something that's longer than a short story, but not as long as a novel. It's a weird gray area between them.

For me, I tend to define things by word count. Here's my basic premise, and keep in mind that novel word counts get broken down further based on genre in my mind:

Short Story: somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 - 10,000 words;
Novella: between 30,000 and 50,000 words, give or take;
Novel: 70,000+ words.

Like I said, that's the basics. A short novel could come in at around 60,000 words, while a long short story could weigh in at 20,000 or so. I also mentioned that I take genre into consideration. Since it does apply here, at least partially, I'll give you examples:

Romance / Cozy Mystery: 70,000 words;
Thriller / Suspense / Horror: 80,000 words;
Science Fiction: 90,000 words;
Fantasy: 100,000+ words.

There are no hard and fast rules to this, it's only what I generally have in my brain.

Anyway, you'll see that I have about a 20k buffer between the basic designations. If the work falls into less than that, it takes the form of the next designation in the list. Since novels are broken down further by genre, that's what sets the actual defining point.

So using my method, this project, which I'm now projecting at around 60,000 words, and is classified as a Horror story, is 20k less than the minimum I'll consider to be a horror novel. Ergo, it's a novella.

But I won't get mad if you call it a short novel.

Confused yet? I am, and I wrote it. Note to self, one less beer before doing a blog post.

At any rate, I'm thankful for the shorter goal for two big reasons.

First, this first person narrative in the form of a series of journal entries is going to wear thin pretty quick. Maybe there are authors out there who could keep it up for the length of an epic, but I'm not one of them. One of the cardinal rules for writing as far as I'm concerned is to write what you yourself would want to read. While this structure would be interesting for a change of pace, it's not something I would do for a long stretch.

Second, this is perhaps the darkest thing I've ever written. I don't want to give too much away about it, like I said in my last post, but I will tell you a couple of things. First, I'm thrilled that it's so dark. If it disturbs me, and I'm the one writing it, I'm pretty confident it will disturb you guys, too. That's what good horror does, right? Disturbs the reader / watcher? Well, I think this will qualify. Also, I really don't like this guy I'm writing about. I feel sorry for him, but I do not like him at all. He reminds me of Carrie White in Stephen King's Carrie. The biggest difference is that I'm having to be inside his head to write his story. Not as a bit of narrative, as in King's tale, but all the time. There are no other POV characters to jump to for relief. This adds to the disturbing nature, so it's doing what I want it to, but I will be so glad to be finished with him.

Yeah, this is going to be a one and done. No sequels here.

Of course, I say that now and in ten years when the idea for a sequel comes to me this post will come back to haunt me, too. But I doubt it.

So, to sum up. It's going to be a novella, or, if you prefer, a short novel. The percentage jump on the progress meter is due to the revision of the word count goal as much as it is a reflection of the actual work done tonight. It's dark and disturbing, and I hope you like it once it's done.

As for me, I'm starting to look forward to the next Cochran book. I need a little lightness in my writing life sometimes, and Jack and Alexis are good for that.

Sorry for the long post, and good night!

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