Something has changed within me, something is not the same
Reading writing blogs, it often seems like most writers have trouble being concise and keeping their novels down to size. I’ve always had the opposite problem. Short is easy for me. I used to work as a storyteller at various Renaissance Faires, and telling a small self-contained tale is my comfort zone. When writing for anthologies, I used to have a great deal of difficulty bringing things up to length, but I never worried about exceeding the specified limit. At least I didn’t until recently.
I blame my stalled !romance novel*. I had never written thirty-five thousand words of fiction before, and I loved doing all that character development. I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed it more than writing shorts – I still love how quickly shorts get done – but it was incredibly satisfying.
Unfortunately, the desire for exposition, character development, and plot lines that are too complex to be resolved in 20 pages is starting to affect work that is supposed to be short. Right now I’m about 3600 words into a story for an upcoming erotica anthology, where I am not allowed to exceed 10,000 words, and my characters aren’t even close to getting into each other’s pants. In addition, my story has gone so far away from my initial outline that there is no hope of ever making it back.
It’s frustrating, but if I were to be honest, I’d have to say that I love this story. I love these characters. I love their journey, and the outline can go sit in a corner and pout if that’s what it wants to do. This is why I’ve always been a pantser instead of a plotter. I may need some sort of literary scaffold when building novel length work, but for the short stuff I prefer to just let my characters tell me what they want to do**… even when they are being a pain in the neck.
*It’s not a romance novel. I know it’s not a romance novel, but it started out as a romance novel and that’s how my brain persists in thinking about it. ! is the mathematical notation for “not.” It is also a punctuation mark that can be referred to as a “bang,” which is oddly appropriate, because once I gave up on it being a romance novel it started to contain a lot more banging.
**Yes, I am totally my characters’ bitch. I have acknowledged this and now we can move on.