Short Story, Novella or Novel?

That was the week that was. Last Tuesday the editor’s report on my spooky stories came in, threw me a complete curve and left me in a tizzy – my poor synapses working overtime.

It started well –
“Like your style and what you’ve done with the stories”
“Very good writer, stories have real merit.”

Oh goodness I was having a warm fuzzy glow moment (actually a bit tearful) of pride.

I read on. She took each story in turn, made some very helpful suggestions and complimentary comments and the fuzzy glow began to turn into a flush to rival any of those crappy menopausal ones.

I arrived at the last few paragraphs. Here’s where the kicker came in. She suggested in effect that I turn the collection into a novella or even a novel.

“What” I shrieked at the computer screen. I’m writing short stories. I can’t do novels not even short ones. I have the evidence to prove it – three half written very dead ones mouldering away in a drawer somewhere.

But the damage was done. Stealthily at first, my brain woke up; then gathering speed it zigged and zagged through a zillion different scenarios. Ideas came; ideas went. What if? What if? Oh yes I could do this or that or even this and that. After a week of serious brooding I felt like one of those stupid chickens trying to hatch a pot egg. I used up a ream of paper drawing out scenes, new chapters, the mechanisms I could use, the new characters I could develop.

Hatching a pot egg

In the end I took last weekend off and painted a lambris clad (tongue and groove) ceiling a fetching chalky white. There was method in my madness because to paint lambris well you need to pay attention – all those little grooves that a roller misses have to be painted in by hand. It’s a boring job but takes my mind off more meaningful things and I’m working on the principle that my brain will be free to rove around on its own, unfettered by my attempts to coax and corral it.

For two days, whilst I played Michaelangelo and lay on my back painting the ceiling (sadly with no Sistine Chapel effects) I left Richard, my possible protagonist festering in the Nonesuch Club – a very unusual and select establishment. Will he emerge shoe-horned into a short story? Shall I give him more air time and expand him into a novella or shall I go for the big time novel?

I haven’t the faintest idea – the pot egg hasn’t hatched yet. I think I’ll go find another ceiling to paint.

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6 thoughts on “Short Story, Novella or Novel?

  1. First of all your editor is paying you a compliment. She feels you have the ability and the body of work to produce a novel. Secondly – mindless clearing the mind is such a good thing to do. I’m glad you are taking the time to perculate. Thirdly – whichever path you choose and however you choose to run with the story it will be a work that I shall look forward to reading. That’s a fact. Now go paint a fence, or a wall, or something until the pot is full of fragrant liquid ready for the pouring 🙂

    • thank you O. you are so supportive and I really appreciate that. Two ceilings later I’ve decided to go for it…the novel. Lots of work to do – rewrites and new stuff – hopefully it’ll be ready by Ooooo, let me see fin de siecle? Well Halloween anyway. 🙂

      • It’s quite simple – I like your work 🙂 This will be hard work, you know that but I KNOW the result will be worth the pain and I very much look forward to reading your baby when it is birthed. Meanwhile I shall continue to support your blog which I always enjoy very much indeed

  2. Sounds to me like you’ve successfully re-booted and are on track – excuse the mixed metaphors.
    Incidentally, if you run out of ceilings during the writing, I could offer a few. I always head for the garden when I need to step back and allow my subconscious a chance to simmer. Good luck, looking forward to hearing how it progresses.

    • I hope so Cathum. Sorry can’t do any more ceilings, got a stiff neck after mine. I like to fossick in the garden too, its a wonderful place to think whilst getting some practical work done.

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