P.12: Eek, Word Counts

Here’s what I imagine is a common, painful dilemma for any short story writer.

I have a story I started a while ago, then got stuck at for a long time. It was one of the more action-packed, plot-focused shorts I’ve written. Most of my stories are more character-driven thinking pieces, so the fact that I wrote this story, with this world, was a pleasant surprise.

But I couldn’t finish it — and sat on it for way longer than I’d care to admit, even if I was about 75% done. I tried to finish it on numerous occasions, but kept getting tripped up. I just couldn’t bridge the scene I was stuck on to the ending.

I recently came back to it and skipped the scene I was having trouble with. I decided my real problem was the ending, so I wrote that, hoping the bridge would come to me.

It did, but now I have a new problem.

Word count.

The ending I wrote was more intricate and way longer than I thought it would be. It’s in a good way, giving the story some of the pieces it was really missing before — missing pieces I didn’t see.

It made my story better, but now I’m at that nearly-a-novelette bubble that’s difficult to publish, without a whole ton I could cut (and I can be a merciless cutter when I want to be).

Part of me thinks I should flesh it out a little more and turn it into a novelette. It would be no easier to publish, but maybe worth it if I’m on the cusp of a novelette anyway.

But then I had an even crazier idea…. is this secretly a novella or a novel?

I have to figure that out. I love the world and the characters, and there’s a lot more that they could do and explore…. so it’s a difficult choice.

I didn’t expect that this would be the story to do this to me… but it did, and I love that it did, even if it’s causing me problems and sucking up way more time than I’d like.

I think it’s worth it. Ultimately, this is a good problem to have.

We’ll see where it goes. I’m going to polish it as a short story first, then reassess.

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