Plotting Without a Parachute

I wrote a novella last year without understanding its universe at all. It was an experiment. I wrote it blind, without doing any plotting, world building, or character sketching. I let it fall from my brain like a sky diver without a parachute. I’d taken no precautions, I had no idea how I was going to land.

That said, I did land, and I landed in a really cool place. Such a cool place, in fact, that I decided to stop living in the vague world I’d created, step through the fog to see what existed outside of the novella’s narrow path. The world grew very large very quickly. New characters sprouted up in familiar and unfamiliar countries, with their own stories to tell, all of them connected in some way. And thus I took a hard look at the old novella and decided it wasn’t good enough, it needed an overhaul. Ugh.

First, some observations on my first draft:

  • The novella was originally written in present tense. This kept the story moving forward at a brisk pace, and painted many scenes beautifully, but the story has changed since then, and just doesn’t feel right in present tense anymore.
  • It was very hard to produce a sense of point of view in the present tense 3rd person. This may have been more a problem with my writing ability.
  • The novella simply lacked depth. The story and characters were deep, but the format of the story left them no room to breathe or react to the disasters that lay in their wake. My reader was constantly running along dusty trails behind my protagonists, trying to keep up with the plot as it galloped toward its end.

For the rewrite, things are going to slow down a lot, and I’m adding a whole bunch of scenes which should push the novella into novel territory, making it a better story and hopefully a bit more salable.

So, what else have I been doing in the writing world… Hum. I joined book country a while back, posted a short story that I’d written while doing the world building for the novella, gave/got some great feedback, then set the story aside when I realized it had taken my eye from the prize, so to speak. Novel first! Short story later.


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