Thursday, June 19, 2008

Story Compost

The Matchmaker world needs to be quite complex for a couple of reasons. First, I can see several novels taking place in it, so there needs to be plenty to explore. Second, each novel should be 100-150,000 words. That's a lot of story, to the uninitiated. Longer than the average novel. Why? I figure if you're going to think at all, you might as well think big, and so this world and novel are being designed with the Luna imprint in mind. Luna is a division of Harlequin that features novels in a fantasy setting with a strong female protagonist and a romantic subplot.

The first draft of Majai's Fury (aka Marks of Repentance) came in about 93K, my longest ever. The re-re-revised version that is currently seeking its fortune is 101K. The matchmaker novels could/ should come in at one and a half times that.

Gulp. That's a lot of story. That's a lot of world.

I've been *seeing* this world for a couple years now, catching glimpses of Kaesa, the first heroine to have her tale set here. About a month ago I decided to focus on her story and see if I couldn't get her ready to write in just a few short weeks.

Insert maniacal laughter here.

I've followed my mind into whatever paths seemed to entertain it and possibly pertain to the Plan. I've played with mythical flying beasts and Yiddish matchmaking sites. I've downloaded Scrivener and created characters and twists and plot cards.

There are many layers composting in the Scrivener binder called Matchmaker. Trust me on that. There is a very cool story in there. Somewhere. But many holes remain. What I don't know is if the projected length of the project is messing with my mind or whether there's something else wrong. I'm pretty sure it's fixable, but I can't quite grasp the problem.

Metaphorically speaking, I've added layers of leaves and vegetable peelings and rotted hay to the compost. I've sprinkled it with water, and I can see the steam coming off the pile, so I know something in there is doing its job. I've taken the pitchfork and turned it over a few times. I've spread it out on the story seeds, but the sprouts are small still. Nothing can hurry growth. You can apply light and rain in the appropriate amounts--add a bit of fertilizer--but a strong story needs time to grow, to reach its roots into the good stuff in the compost and be strong and green and beautiful.

And the Matchmaker novel isn't ready to do that. Not this week, anyway. I'd welcome that flash of inspiration that would pull the threads together, but it seems it has to come to me--that going out and looking for it isn't quite working.

Enter Tempest, stage left.

She presented me with a complete, if skeletal, synopsis on Sunday and I've been trying to ignore her ever since. Today I gave up and created a new binder in Scrivener for her. It looks like her story should have no trouble coming in at 80-90K. I'll let it land there if it likes as I'm not sure it's really a Luna story anyway, though it meets the other basic requirements. I guess we'll see.

I hate abandoning projects, and I feel like I've been doing a lot of that lately. It does feel better when I tell myself that they're just composting. Let's see if I can convince myself.

1 comment:

Jean said...

I like this analogy.