Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cliffhangers, Novellas, and Google Plus.

It's come to my attention that the endings of both Subject 12 and The Grand Granger have left some readers, shall we say, unsatisfied.  I assure you that this was not intentional, and I'll attempt to explain why in this blog post.  I'll address The Grand Granger first as that one is easier to explain.  I apologize if I speak of issues I've spoken of regularly.  I don't want to sound like I'm complaining or repeating myself, but I also don't want a new reader to come across this blog and feel left out or obligated to dig through everything I've said so far just to be in the loop.

The Grand Granger is a novella.  Novellas are currently out of favor with the American public for some reason I cannot fathom as they fill a useful niche in the storyteller's ecosystem; longer than a short story yet shorter than a novel they allow more character and plot development while allowing for a faster pace than a traditional novel as well as the quick satisfaction and brevity of a short story.  Many of our greatest classics are novellas, especially in the realm of science fiction: War of the Worlds comes to mind, not that I'm trying to put my work in the same league as Verne's.  If you look at the Hammer's Slammers novels by David Drake (and I recommend you do as they're great reads if you like military sci-fi), they are collections of short stories and novellas.  Stephen King writes a lot of novellas.  I give you the following link for the list: http://www.stephenking.com/library/novella/

Novellas, like short stories, don't have much fluff.  As a result they pack a lot of punch in a small spaces.  Also like short stories, when they end, they end.  There isn't much more to say, so they don't usually say any more than they have to.  This is why The Grand Granger ends the way it does.  Some might find it abrupt, but that's where the story ended.  While I don't currently plan on giving Xii and Reg any more "screen time", that's not to say they won't appear again.  Their story, for the moment, is over.  That doesn't mean I won't be writing more in the Tal'Red universe, just that the characters you've seen so far may not be making another appearance.

Subject 12 ended on a cliffhanger of sorts.  This was, at the time, a matter of necessity.  While I find some people are capable of writing upwards of 10,000 words in a day, my output is much lower.  Part of that is physical, some of it psychological.

My arthritis causes my hands to hurt when I type too much, my back hurts because of my crappy office chair (there was $200 well spent, not), and I get chest pains from the bad angle I have to sit at in order to type on my PC for any length of time (again, office chair) -- and none of this can be helped with even OTC pain medication because I can't even take acetaminophen without experiencing gastric issues that can last for 24 hours.  I'm a rather large man and require a plus-rated office chair to sit in, so I can't just run to Office Max or Walmart and pick up the $69 special and expect it to last more than a few days.  I also spend upwards of eight hours a day in a chair, so it has to be durable.  As such, my research has lead me to the inexorable conclusion that I need a 24-hour chair rated at more than 300lbs as the one I currently have is rated at 300lbs (though I thought it was supposed to be 350 when I bought it, which I got to make sure I'd have a lot of reserve) and was showing signs of fatigue after two weeks of use.  As for the psychological reasons, I find writing to be a very intense and often emotional experience.  I agonize over things, and I'll spend hours researching minor points just to make sure I'm not making a mistake.  While this may lead to a superior product, it really cuts into my output some days.

I try to output at least 1,000 words per day when I'm writing regularly, but that's hard for me to do most days because of everything else I have going on, arthritis issues (some days I can't even hold a pen to write with, let alone type much), or just plain writer's block.  However, unlike these writers who slam out 10,000 words a day during NaNoWriMo (or as I call it, November), I find that I prune very little of what I write unless it's utter trash.  I sculpt and massage and shape and hammer on what I write until it's in the proper shape, or temper it until it's the right hardness, but I don't cut 30% of my writing from first draft to final.  Actually, I find I'm adding anywhere from 5-10% of the first draft's word count per revision (or the equivalent if not more in rewrites).  If I do find something that needs to be cut, be it a sentence or a few thousand words, I cut it because sometimes things just don't work, or the story's gone in a new direction.

What I'm trying (and failing) to say is that I just ran out of steam by the end of Subject 12, and I think it really showed in some of the errors that crept in despite a substantive and at times exhausting editing cycle.  At the time I simply couldn't write any more.  The story wasn't finished -- isn't finished, unless I die before I can get Rogue up for you guys -- but I couldn't write any more of it.  I had a choice; delay publication and try to get the story wrapped up in another chapter, which would be doing you, me, and the story itself a huge disservice, or finish it on a cliffhanger and write a whole novel as a sequel.  I chose the latter for two reasons.  First off, comic books (which Subject 12 is both an homage to and send-up of) are the epitome of cliffhangers.  Denying that would be pointless and flat out wrong.  I felt justified for this very reason.  Secondly, rather than trying to condense everything to ~20,000 words, by giving myself an entire novel to stretch in, I'm allowing myself to do justice to the story as it could, nay, should be.  I owe it to my readers as much as to myself to do it justice, so I will do my best to do so.

Speaking of Subject 12, I've finally gotten the feel I needed for the characters in the story I'm working on in Reagent Protocol, which will be an anthology of three stories (See, that pesky novella crops up again.) as I've mentioned.  They will tie into Subject 12 quite nicelyBanshee you're already familiar with, and I've given you the outline for the story I'm working on now.  The third one is in preliminary planning stages.  I can't say as the whole thing will be worth the wait, but I hope it will be well-received.  I will keep you posted.

As the title of this post indicates, and as I've alluded to a few times, I've been giving thought to the concept of opening up a Google Plus page.  I've received a single piece of feedback on the matter, and it indicates that I might get more feedback if I open said page.  Well, I don't want people to think I'm hard to reach, or difficult to speak with once I've been reached, so I'm thinking it'll be a project for the new year.  I look forward to hearing from you, even if you just want to say "hi" or "you suck".  I actually already have a G+ account activated; I just haven't done anything with it yet.  I'll have some free time coming up soon, so hopefully I can look into it a bit more.  Everything I post here will be cross-posted there, so this blog may even become a bit pointless -- but I'm not giving up on it.

Anyway, it's time to wrap this up.  My traffic from Belgium is back so Bonjour, mes amis!  Comment allez-vous?

Thanks, everyone, for reading and Happy Holidays!

(Bonus paragraph!)

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I hoped to share some really big news with everyone.  Unfortunately, the whole idea seems to have died.  If I don't hear more by the end of the year I'll probably tell everyone about it in the new year, with details, just not e-mail addresses or names.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely loved subject twelve! Cant wait for more!!


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