Remember how I said one of the challenges of romance novellas was not putting in too much stuff that didn't advance the story? Because there's only so much space?
Yeah, well. I am now four stories into the revision. Numbers 1 and 2 gained some length, but I didn't have to take much out, because (obviously) they were first written. They were shorter. I had many fewer characters in my head, a more compressed timeline, and fewer events around which the characters orbit. They were originally written at speed and, deliberately, as only-slightly-narrativized teleplays.
A note: As Chuck Wendig said recently, a screenplay is not a book. A screenplay is basically an outline, for stuff to be visualized. My early stories were pages of dialogue, given context by short bits of scene-setting. So in turning them into more conventionally readable novellas (which are, in fact, books), there's a lot more scene-setting happening, and a lot more character development that - in a screenplay - would be conveyed through the characters' visualized actions.
And that means some other stuff might have to Go.
On Number 11, which I revised a couple of weeks ago, I had to lose a not-very-long section of dialogue that was just basically filling the reader in on what had happened with other characters in the series. That story gained about 1000 words, whereas 1 and 2 gained over 2000 each. It doesn't seem like much if you are used to writing 1000-word blog posts. (#blatheration) That said, in the context of a 22,000-word story, it's a significant percentage. With more development on either side of it, that section was just unnecessary. Unhelpful, even.
Anyway, that Number 11 dialogue would have been fine in a novel, but it had nothing to do with the central romance. Since I'm trying to make these novellas better without making them too much longer, anything extraneous had to go.
Last night I finished the first pass through Number 3. It's an important story in the series, because the central character appears in many others, and is working with a character who is a linchpin to the whole series community. When I wrote it, I put in a LOT of stuff about the central character's creative life. I like that stuff, but ...
I'm gonna have to kill a lot of it.
Because it took up space, and however snappy I still think the dialogue is, it's more important to expand on the central relationship. I've added 4000 words, and now those creativity scenes are just filler.
Plus, the new stuff I'm writing for the relationship is, frankly, better. The hero for Number 3 got hardly any space in the original story (though, according to my beta reader, he made an impression anyway), and I love him, so ... . Snappy dialogue does not outrank a good character's development. I'd rather keep the story at 24,000 words and make it all about H & H.
I have no regrets about publishing these the way I have. If I had not thrown them out there as barely-cleaned first drafts, I might not ever have published them at all. If I hadn't just hit "publish" the first time out, I might not have even written the second one.
Because, you know, nothing bad happened. There is no cure for anxiety quite like doing something and nothing bad happening as a result!
And all the others have grown out of those first two, so ... .
The learning process has been invaluable. And thanks to the very forgiving platform, I can fix them, over and over again if I want to.*
It's not helping with my insomnia, but my motivation now is to have my beta reader come back and say "I have nothing to bitch about with this one." Heh.