How to write a composition or story Part Two

When writing your story, one thing to perhaps keep in mind is how long will your story be.  I was CONVINCED when I first wrote my upcoming book that it was going to be a novelette.

Novelette?  Okay, let me explain.

In the whole fiction genre, there are generally four categories as it regards to length.   The Science Fiction Writers of America uses these measurements as their standards:

  • Short fiction: under 7,500 words
  • Novelette: 7,500-17,500 words
  • Novella: 17,500-40,000 words
  • Novel: 40,000 words and up

I wanted to write a smaller story in length (novelette) to tell my story.  Now if I were not self-publishing, this would pose a serious problem.  Why?

Most publishers stay away from the short stories and novelettes because of cost.  Too small to print and too small to make money.  Therefore, if you have a collection of short stories or novelette, it makes it more attractive to the publisher.  Since this is my first book, I don't qualify for that!

What about e-publishing?
There is a market for this, a great market actually; however, the upper-echelon awards require hard copies.  Depends on what you want out of it.   If think your book is Pulitzer-worthy, then get it printed. If not, Kindle it is!

So What did I choose?
Because of my word length, my upcoming project would be classified as a novella.  Contrary to popular belief, there has been MANY of novellas that have been erroneously labeled as novels:

·  "The Body" (Stand By Me, 1986) by Stephen King

·  "Rita Hayworth & "The Shawshank Redemption" (The Shawshank Redemption, 1994) by Stephen King

·  "Apt Pupil" by Stephen King

·  "A River Runs Through It" by Thomas Maclean

·  "The Bicentennial Man" by Isaac Asimov

·  "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Truman Capote

·  "Heart of Darkness" (Apocalypse Now, 1976) by Joseph Conrad

·  "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck

·  "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1941) by Robert Louis Stevenson,

·  "The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells ·   "Call of the Wild"  by Jack London
·   "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
·   "Animal Farm" by George Orwell

Mind you , I didn't say "I want to write 30,000 words."  What I did say was that I wanted to make sure I clearly defined the plots and subplots in my story and I knew it would probably take that amount of words.

As in music, a lot of people miss out on a major thing: character development.   It's important that your protagonist and antagonist have development which captivates the readers.   In almost every great piece of music, literature, and film, these are developed.  (I can only think of one movie where the antagonist wasn't developed and that was Dark Knight.  The Joker's character wasn't really developed if you really think about it.  He was just villainously raw.  However, he gets a pass because a) the Joker is as old as our grandparents and most people already knew what to expect  b) because of Heath Ledger's passing, we came to understand that he was going to return in the third movie which was going to answer if this Joker was Jack Napier, Jack White, Joseph Kerr or neither.  So unless you've writing a character that we've known for eighty years, get to developing!)

In my case, at first, I did not develop one of my characters enough.  My beloved sister Althea (who is a better writer than I and one of the most talented in the family) told me I needed to give this character an out.  If I didn't, this character would be too vile.  Something as small as one sentence gave a hint into the character.

Enter Earl Brooks.
Earl was like a professor the whole time in my process asking me questions with a stern literary critique.  Although he did not ghost write, his questions provoked a lot of thought which were invaluable to my authorship.  He made sure I understood the ramifications of using certain colloquialisms.  Because of this, Earl made me see what my target audience was.  Another key point we had major discourse on was how deep we needed to go in character development.  Back to Althea's point, I went back and devoted a whole chapter to that character which answered everything Earl asked.  This is what happens when you get a bibliophile English PhD student to critique!

Why do I share all this?
The reason is to show that everyone needs help.  When you write, you don't have to show the whole world.  Just get a selected group of people just make sure you dotted "I's" and crossed your "T's".   Don't surround yourself with yesmen.  Surround yourself with people who can amplify your goals.

Part III Coming soon!