As I have mentioned or at least alluded to before, my first two novellas (one of which is out in ebook format, the other of which will be out before the end of the summer) are companion pieces…the events of the same night for two different couples, which interconnect and influence each other’s stories. These pieces were not written concurrently, but they were planned together, and the same week I finished writing one I started the other. So in a way they are one story–my first story.
What I am writing now could, then, be considered my second story, and I’m finding that it’s harder to do than I expected. I hadn’t really considered the idea of second story as harder to write until I saw this post from Courtney Milan, which implies a lot of writers struggle with book 2. (Also I’m sad this discussion won’t be recorded, since it sounds apter than apt for where I am right now!)
Was the relative ease with which the first story came together just beginner’s luck? Or is the difference that the plotline there was tight–it was one night, and characters who only had to be led to the point of revelation of extant feelings–rather than characters who have to begin from scratch and need at least a couple weeks to come to the point?
I am enjoying working on a story that is more like a novel in scope, if not final length (although, my projections right now put it much closer to the novel-length rather than the short story border of novella country), but it is also frustrating to me. I can’t hold the entire plot in my mind at once. I don’t have one moment of revelation to lead the characters into, but several. It’s…complicated, for all that I thought I knew the whole story going in.
I can also tell that it’s going to need a lot more revising than the first story. That one, I wrote out and essentially only had to line-edit. This one is going to need parts trimmed down and others padded up, certain threads pulled to the front in places where they’d gotten lost in the shuffle in order to keep those themes visible throughout, and scenes re-written whole cloth when the first attempt turned out to be from the wrong point of view or just entirely off.
Perhaps what I’m struggling with the most is my own perfectionism. I have a tendency to shut down on moving forward until I fix the parts that I’ve written that I can tell are not perfect or even close-enough-to-perfect to stand in its place with just a tarnished halo to differentiate it. It is hard for me to write forward knowing that I will have to rewrite what is behind, but on the flip side I won’t actually know how I need to revise what’s already down until I have the rest of it written. Conundrum!
Since I’m not clairvoyant, obviously I can’t see into the future to look at what the finished rough draft will be to tell me what I then need to revise on the front half. That is beyond my control. Therefore the only part I can control is the creation of the full draft, therefore the only thing I can do is keep going until it’s finished, no matter how tough it is. The point that I have to hammer home through my thick head is that what matters is not getting down something perfect, but getting something down. It can be fixed later. It can be deconstructed and reconceived later…but I have no way to tell that it will need to be until I first construct the wrong thing.
Better start hammering.