Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!
After three weekends of writing, I finished a first draft of Cretaceous Queen on Sunday afternoon. :-) It totals 9,300 words currently, taking it beyond the realm of a short story to become a lean novelette. I’m happy with this, as I have a good track-record with novelette-sized pieces.
Novelettes allow me to craft an amount of story equal to a few good chapters from a novel, so I can go a little deeper with the tale than a short story would allow. But because they stop shy of a novella length (which usually starts around 18,000 words) or a novel by far (around 50,000 words minimum) they aren’t huge commitments to either write or read. Novelettes also have the benefit of being able to be serialized readily, as you can easily work the natural ebb and flow of chapters into them.
And turning Cretaceous Queen into a short serial for the blog is exactly what I have in mind.
It will easily convert into at least a four-part piece that I can share with you for as many weeks, my plan being to share its chapters progressively on Saturdays. I’ve been trying to increase the amount and frequency that my own writing appears on the blog this year, with longer one-shot pieces like Crossing and Aniyah joining my weekly microfiction offerings of Mid-Week Muses and Fifty Word Fantasy. Running Cretaceous Queen as a serial fits with that goal perfectly. :-)
I’m not sure when I’ll start sharing it, but it’ll likely be at least a few weeks. Currently the draft is in the hands of my wife, to whom I almost always grant the first read and critique of my pieces. Once I work in edits from her notes, Queen will be headed to Madicienne; my friend and fellow author who provided the spark of inspiration that got me writing it in the first place. The story is, in a real way, a gift for her as much as it has been a gift to myself. And after Madicienne is done, I have at least two other writer friends waiting to read it.
Those readers alone will get me to a fifth draft of the piece, and there may be more. But given my past experiences with similarly sized works, editing in changes shouldn’t take great lengths of time unless I really missed a mark somewhere and they need to be extensive.
By design, Cretaceous Queen opens in media res and ends with a few questions and a new problem unresolved. I wouldn’t call it a cliffhanger ending. But I would say that it’s more than a passive, open ending in that I think it will leave readers that liked it with a strong desire to find out what happens next.
That ending is by design as well: My goal with both the opening and ending was to capture the feeling of stepping into series already in progress.
This tactic could easily be confusing. To prevent that, I designed the story as if the reader was stepping into the building climax of an early or the very first story arc of the series. That allows me to start the piece literally on a running pace, but not with an overwhelming amount of backstory that needs to be relayed for it to make sense.
The story opens with an exciting introduction to protagonists Katie and Max that doesn’t require any knowledge of prior events to understand. Thereafter, the reader is brought up to speed on vital parts of backstory dropped while the pair deals with a challenge and converses trying to solve a sudden, and serious, problem stemming from it. I was pretty happy with myself for getting all that done within only a few brisk pages, and all the while with enough action that it didn’t become a slog of exposition either.
From there, it’s right into the meat of the story. The stakes have been set high. The reader knows what they are, and why, at this point. So it’s all about how and if this pair of fifteen-year-olds can rise up to the challenge.
I don’t really let-up on the kids as things get rolling, either. Instead, I throw a toolbox full of wrenches at them over the course of the plot. ;-)
When I finished Cretaceous Queen on Sunday, it legitimately felt like I had finished the pilot for a series. I’d done worldbuilding to get my concepts straight, and plotting for events both before and after the story to form something akin to a rough series bible. It was a good feeling: I’d created something inspired by early 90s anime including battling robots and magical girls, and combined that with dinosaurs and American style superheroic conventions.
My inner teen fanboy loved it, and I think I’ve written it in such a way that many others will too. I’m really curious to hear their reactions, and I’ve got this feeling that they’re going to want more. Having had such a positive experience crafting this “pilot”, I’m not opposed to writing the rest of the series so that it becomes worthy of a bouncy, 90s J-pop theme song in the future. ;-)
But aside from edits to Queen, that can wait. The time has come for me to return to Vivian’s Last Cigarette in a major way next week!
Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!