Note, read after you’ve read On the Corner of Pine and Meyer. Otherwise: spoilers.
My latest novella has been an interesting project, and a definite learning experience; also, not my favorite work. The original draft for this story is so old that there were double spaces after each period. I swear I like humor, but most of the ideas I’ve posted and written to this site were cooked up in college when I felt melodramatically drawn to take-all-this-very-seriously. If I wrote this story now I’d probably just straight up start with the house talking and changing things, not only because those are the interesting bits and you may as well lead with your strongest foot, but also because watching a man verbally war his own house while it keeps interrupting his work on the laptop he had the misfortune to plug into the wall could be hilarious if handled right. Eventually I’d work in the creep/menace factor for some added thrills, before cleaning it all up at the end with a smile and a bow.
I’d also probably give him more kids and/or a not-dead wife because I’m tired of repeating the same pattern of single parent, two kids. All three of my longest stories on this site (this one, “Small Town Super Nobody,” and “Ten Seconds to Now”) use it. Which is an affront to my annoyance with modern fiction. There aren’t enough fics in this world—at least not written recently—with happy, whole families. I’ve still got a heavy majority of orphans and lonely protagonists with tragic back stories clogging up my Word drive, but at least now the one-shot folder is neatly bisected by a story that features an annoyed mom telling her three kids to knock it off while the man of the house makes groan-worthy dad-jokes in the other room, and book-ended by another about the luckiest family on earth. Both were additions to the folder in 2018.
But I didn’t come up with Pine&Meyer last year, I wrote the second draft nine years ago as the final project for a creative writing course (adding about 15,000 words to the original draft, which I’ll see if I can track down) in my last semester as an undergrad, and I’ve been working with what I got. Some extra lessons:
- The delete button is your friend. Just because it can be a novella doesn’t mean it should be a novella; and
- Never start posting a story you haven’t finished writing.
I’ve said the second before, but it bears repeating.
You may even hear it again someday.
(Oh: and I’m back to work on more promising projects. I won’t tell you which one yet, but I started to work on it over my lunch break instead of watch YouTube videos just because I was excited to get to work on it, and that’s got to be a sign of something promising. I’ll see about reporting actual word counts again once I move out of the planning stage.)