Famous Last Words
When I started writing Reckless, over two years ago, I planned it as a novella. I wanted to tell the story of a man who, through one reckless act, changes his life irrevocably…and finds love in the most unlikely of places.
I completed the story at just under 20,000 words, a decent novella length, and queried it around, looking for an agent to represent it. This was before Piper Denna, an editor at Lyrical Press and a talented romance author, accepted me on as a Lyrical author when I queried Wishing for a Highlander.
Originally, Reckless was titled Road Rage. It was short and sweet…and, according to the few agents who requested a sample, rough around the edges. I received one personalized rejection in which an agent I have a huge amount of respect for told me the story should be longer. She thought I’d rushed the development of my characters and had a bigger story to tell than I allowed myself room for. I took some time to think about this and eventually decided she was 100% correct.
Anyone who’s written a manuscript, whether it’s 5,000 words, 20,000 or full length at 100,000 or more, knows the sheer terror that grips the soul at the prospect of scrapping a project and starting over. I experienced this terror. As an avid knitter (with some perfectionist tendencies bordering on obsession), I knew well the disappointment of discovering something I’d spent countless hours on creating needed a complete reworking. Opening a fresh Word document and typing “Road Rage, draft 2” at the top of a blank page was about as disheartening as tearing out an entire sweater, re-winding the yarn, and starting over.
Granted, I was able to do some copying and pasting to ease the way, but the book soon became something totally new, something so much more vivid and personal than the novella I had written. I soon found myself envisioning new supporting characters, like the hero’s ex-wife and his eleven-year-old daughter, like my heroine’s brother, who of course had a terrible secret he’d been keeping from her for years.
I gave my heroine some pretty intense baggage. I sculpted her personality into something that closely resembled parts of my own personality, and through forcing her into a situation in which she would have to overcome her baggage, I found myself discovering new strength in myself.
At some point in every manuscript, what goes on the page changes from simple words to something magical. This happened for me when I was deep into converting Road Rage from a novella to a novel. Now, years later, it has a new title and a new life as the first in my Blue Collar Boyfriends series of rough-around-the-edges heroes who can be tender when it counts. Later this year, I’ll be releasing two more contemporary romances in this series. Since Reckless is so special to me, I’m so glad it’s the first.
I wonder if starting Reckless as a novella was an essential step in eventually getting to that place where I felt magic happening. I suspect, for this particular story, it was.
I’ve recently started another novella that I’m planning to release in 2015. It’s the prequel to my Highland Wishes series of time-travel romances. I’ve had several readers ask me whether I plan o telling the story of how Constance and Wilhelm meet. These two make an appearance in Wishing for a Highlander. By the time my heroine, Melanie meets Constance, Constance is an older woman who has been happily married to a Highlander for more than twenty years. Like many of my readers, I began to wonder if their beginning was as happy as their lives once Melanie and Darcy show up on the scene.
I decided I definitely needed to write their story. So all those who have encouraged me to get on that, THANK YOU!
I’m only three chapters in. Not very far. About a quarter of the way, if, indeed, this will be a novella. But I wonder if this one, like Reckless‘s origin, might be a full-length novel waiting to happen.
I haven’t felt that magical spark with The Highlander’s Witch yet, but I know it will happen. It always does, eventually. I just need to be patient, let the characters work through their issues, and keep adding words. Whether this one remains a novella or grows into something bigger, I don’t know, but I’ll certainly let you know as soon as I find out:-)
How about you? Do you like reading novellas? Do they leave you wishing for deeper character development? Do you have to be in a certain mood for a shorter piece?
I want to know!
After you post a comment below, please swing over to my giveaway at Rafflecopter (click the word GIVEAWAY), and enter to win one of five e-copies of Reckless. The giveaway will run for the whole month of April, and you can enter every day to improve your odds of winning (see the giveaway page for details).
Thanks for stopping by!