A “novel” project

I know what you’re thinking. I already have too many projects. I have the SCIENCE FICTION AGE reviews (which are on hiatus during the month of April). I have my Italian lessons (which I have been ignoring of late). I have my workouts (from which I am taking a break this week). And I am constantly complaining about how little time I have to do anything. So what’s this about yet another project?

I haven’t been writing much lately. I have 5 stories and none of them are moving along well, or in the direction I want them to move. But I feel the urge to write none the less, and I need something to work on that grabs me. This evening, driving home from the metro station, I realized what it was.

Back in February, I complained that I had nowhere else to send my novella, “Graveyard Shift” because I’d sent it to the major markets, and the remaining markets don’t take stories that are 20,000 words long. At that time, mabfan suggested that I expand the story into a novel. I replied that the thought struck me dumb with fear. I’ve never attempted to write a novel and I wouldn’t know how to go about it. But this evening, I thought about Michael’s suggestion and it dawned on my that this would be a good opportunity to learn, and to write as much as possible.

And of all my stories, “Graveyard Shift” happens to be the most perfectly suitable for a novel length story. The story in it’s present form is just over 20,000 words. I figure I need to add another 60,000 – 70,000 words to get it to an appropriate length. In total, I’m aiming for about 90,000 words. How can I possibly expand a 20,000 word story to 90,000 words. As it turns out, the setting of the story is perfect for this. I can go more in depth with the characters, explore the setting, and add additional complications that will make the story (in my opinion) even more interesting. I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to expanding the story, but I’ll work at it as best I can. If I can manage around 500 words a day (about 2 pages), it would take me 140 days or so to expand. I work better with deadlines. There are about 200 days left in the year so I’m aiming to have the novel version of the story finished by the end of the year. That gives me 60 days in which I can do no writing at all, so long as I make my targets on average.

I don’t expect the novel to sell. Don’t get me wrong, I will submit it to those science fiction book publishers that don’t require writers to have agents. But I simply can’t see a first effort on my part being of much interest. Instead, I see it as a learning experience, a writing exercise, and a way to force myself to write more than I have in the past. It’s something new, something that I am afraid of trying, but a fear to be conquered.

As always, I’ll post my progress along the way. The first step is deciding how to organize the novel. My initial thinking is that a slightly reorganized and expanded version of the novella will make up the first part, and I have in mind some ideas for the second and third parts. I have some plotting and outlining to do, but the characters that form the foundation are already there in the novella so I also have a good jumping off point. The title of the novel will likely change. The current title has a double meaning in part because the story takes place over one long night and day. The expanded version will probably take place over several days, or even a week, and thus some of the double meaning is lost.

That’s my “novel” project and I’m pretty excited about it. Thanks, mabfan for the suggestion and encouragement. If, by some miracle, I do write something that someone feels is worth publishing, you will have earned yourself an honorable mention in the acknowledgments. 🙂

Stay tuned…