I finished the conversion of my script Bright Freedom into a story this week. It came in at a little over 17,500 words, which is supposed to be the boundary between a novelette and a novella. It runs 47 pages.
I gave it a quick scan and it was clear that I have a lot more work to do on it. I plan to leave it for a while, and then start a rewrite. I expect I’ll need to do quite a few rewrites.
I think I do have a problem with some of my writing, where I have essentially the same thing happens over and over. I managed to cut out some of that in this story as I rewrote it, but I still need to do some more.
Another mistake I made with this story is that the subplots are too big and left the main story line somewhat thin. I did some analysis of the story and the main story makes up about 70 per cent of the total words, while one subplot is 25 percent and the other about 5 per cent. That isn’t as bad as I thought. The main plot is actually two stories that are so intertwined that I really can’t separate them. I think that is why I felt like my subplots took up too much space. I plan to build up the main plot line more and cut some stuff out of the subplots.
In several scenes, I have the characters talk to each other on the phone. In some cases, I think this makes sense. In others, I think I should change the scene into a face to face meeting.
I noticed that scenes that I thought about quite a bit read much better. The scenes where I didn’t, come across as pretty limp. When I rewrite I think I should just do one scene at a time, and reread it at least a day before to get my mind focussed on it.
Another issue is that I’ve put in descriptions of what the character does while they talk or pause. I did that to break up the dialog, and avoid “he said” and “she said” descriptions. All too often, I have their gestures repeat. I think a lot of that has to come out. I also want to come up with a wider range of gestures, expressions, and actions. I want them to reveal what the characters are thinking, and what they are feeling.
Pierre Berton said that you should read something good before you start to write. I’ve been reading about H. P. Lovecraft, which is a very different kind of material from what I’m trying to do. I need to read a story more like what I’m writing. I can’t really think of any. It’s a little hard to describe what the story is, so it is hard to ask people for suggestions.