Progress report on “Rescue” novelette

I haven’t been doing any actual writing on “Rescue”. Instead, I’ve been reading the first part of the NaNoWriMo novel from which I am cannibalizing the story. It turns out to be the first time I’ve read this straight through since I wrote it in the first 10 days of November. It is 35,000 words long so it’s taking a while, plus I am heavily annotating what I’m reading on the Kindle. (It is so wonderful to be able to do this, but it would require another post for me to describe that process.)

What I’m trying to do is take the story I told in Part 1 of the novel and make it into a stand-alone novelette. That means taking a 35,000 word story with a whole bunch of loose-ends left open and cutting it down to a 15,000-20,000 word story, all neatly tied together. It sounds like a tough job, but so far, it has been a lot of fun, even though I haven’t done any actual writing.

I’ve come to discover that one of my favorite parts of the writing process is the second draft. The first draft is fun, but for me, it is like an artist’s sketch. I get the story laid out roughly and don’t worry too much about smoothing it out until later. When I get to the second draft, I do a lot of cutting and rewriting and general tightening up. I see the whole story so I can add elements early in the story that better tie into things later in the story. In a way, the work I am doing on “Rescue” is kind of like second draft work. I am identifying themes, and I am figuring out which characters and view points are interesting and which ones don’t really work. I’ve already figured out how to add an element of mystery to the story, and how to tie that in with the overarching storyline.

One complication is that the novel, as written, is told from as many as five different major character view points. I am hard pressed to think of short fiction that does this well.  I’m looking at cutting it to 3 major characters, but the story still shifts between three viewpoints. While it is clear and obvious when this happens, I don’t know how well it works in short fiction. I think there were some stories in Asimov’s FOUNDATION series that did this. If there is anyone out there who can think of recent novellas or novelettes that used multiple view points, I’d be interested to know what they are.

I’m currently about 25% of the way through my read and I’ve got 36 notes that I’ve made on what I’ve read so far. But I have definitely gotten a vision for where the novelette version of the story will go. It was my intention to finish my read-through today and start the actual writing tomorrow morning, but I’m juggling so many tasks that I might not finish until Tuesday or Wednesday. I’ll report back again once the writing portion of the project is underway.