So I’m trying out something new, converting a shoebox novel to a novella. I’ve gone the other way before, Ragnarök Willie started life as a short story, grew to a novella on the way to its current status as a 90K word WIP novel. While in hindsight that was a good call for Willie–containing saving the world from 13 power-hungry valkyries in 5000 words was a wee bit crazy–longer is not always better.
So for Gho, my erstwhile paranormal urban fantasy ghost storynovel in a shoebox (every writer has one or more), I am taking a shot at downsizing. Amazingly, it’s working. Gho in novel form weighed in at about 93K words, and now on draft 2 of the novella variant I’m down to a svelte 23K words, right on target. Since I usually trim 5% or so via normal editing I doubt it will grow. And guess what–it’s still a complete full-bodied story.
As to how I got there, mostly by killing darlings. All writers have them, those characters, scenes and subplot lines that are interesting, loveable, creative but aren’t 100% necessary to the main plot. For Gho the Novella I had to eliminate vast chunks of writing: so long to Shale the valkyrie, Mardan the sangoma, Hildi’s divorced parents, Robert the lumberjack. Shale will get a bigger roll in Ragnarök Willie; Hildi’s father gets a role in my just-accepted-for-publication short story, “Believe.”
Kept the ghost, the kitsune and the Tesla. Bye bye to the whole party scene, aliens, stealth fighters, the unicorn and a survivalist’s cave. And good riddance to all those interesting but nonessential points of view. In their place I have a really clean girl meets demon meets ghost plot line, a dash of romance, and a stealth helicopter.
Not finished yet, and it still may swell back to a novel (there aren’t that many markets for novellas; more on that in a later post) but it will be tighter than tight either way.