Reaching the summit

With a couple of days to spare, I’ve dragged myself up the steep trail and have planted myself firmly on the summit.  The elusive first draft of my novella, “The Last Portal,” is complete.

Whew!

My wife/muse/first reader gave me the thumbs up, so I submitted the story to my anthology group this past Tuesday for editing.  Thus begins at least two rounds of scrutiny and polishing to elevate the story to its peak altitude (mountain metaphors intentional).

So, what was my process for writing a 16,000+ word story?

Since this story is set in the fantasy world I created for my novel series, the world-building had already been done.  I decided on characters and a single significant event that would be considered a legend or myth by the protagonists in the novels (which occur chronologically some 5000 years later).  The same way we look back thousands of years for our history, mythology, legends, and origin stories.

So, I came up with characters who would do something so significant they would be remembered as legends or myths in the story world.  My goal was twofold: produce a new original story for my group anthology and deepen the story world of my upcoming epic fantasy novel series.

To complete this story, I wrote between two and three hours per day for three solid weeks.  I estimate the first draft of this story took me at least 32 hours.  That seems long, but at 16000 words, that averages 500 words per hour.   I am not a blazing fast writer, since I often stop writing to think through the scene or the characters actions and how the plot should progress.  I had written an outline and short synopsis for this story, so it wasn’t discovery writing.  Even with a story plan, I spent big chunks of writing time thinking through a plot point or deviating from the outline for a better story path.

The result is under review by my writing group.  I’ll update soon once I get some feedback.

The process of collaborating on an anthology project has inspired me to expand my focus on short fiction.  I have rekindled my enthusiasm for short fiction, finding the process creatively satisfying.  Thus, I will soon have another new project to discuss as I prepare another novella for publication.  More details to follow.  Yes, another teaser.  This project is even more exciting to me because it is a novella that introduces a potential stand alone novel in the historical/modern fantasy genre.

What do you do to reach the proverbial summit in your writing?  How do you stay with a story until the end?

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4 responses to “Reaching the summit

  • Stephen A. Watkins

    I did the same thing once – I wrote an approximately 7,000 word short story that was basically a myth or legend from the ancient history of my fantasy novel’s world. In retrospect, it was pretty bad writing (but I was young). Still, I think conceptually the idea of doing this is great, and I’ll doubtless do it again. In fact, I have it in mind to rewrite that very same story some day, though I expect it’ll be much longer the second-go-round.

    So, kudos for finishing it. And good luck with this anthology!

  • Mom

    Hooray!!!!! Congratulations. What a great feat. That is one under your belt. What is your flag design? (You know when you reach the summit, you plant a flag? Ha Ha or in the new lingo lol

  • Mark J. Taylor

    I think readers like short stories set in the world of a fantasy series. The main series plotline may not have room for the actions of a minor or historical character, but these stories add depth and flavor to the world and, at least for me, create a scope to the world that makes it seem more persistent and not in existence for the sake of the story alone.

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