Thursday, December 17, 2009

Percy Freebottom: From Novel to Short Story

So I've been working on this story about a guy named Percy Freebottom. The story's been brewing since May of 2009, when I finished my last book.

Originally, Percy was just a scene. A scene is fine for short story, but it's not enough for a full-on novel, which needs a storyline, plotting, more characters, tons of scenes, deeper descriptions, and so forth.

But all I had was this scene.

I described the scene to people, and they loved it. "I want to read that!" they said.

Which got me to thinking: Cool fucking scene! That'll make a cool fucking novel.

And for the past six months, now, I've been trying to stretch out the scene into a novel. You ever try to stretch out a scene into a novel?

Ever tried to stretch a turtle? Same thing, only people don't think you're insane for trying to stretch a turtle.

So the other morning I woke up at 4AM -- that's when I write, 4AM -- brewed some coffee, and sat on the couch and banged out Percy. I got to 2100 words and stopped, and this afternoon, I polished it off with another 2100 words, making it a decent little short story.

And it's just the scene! Jump in. Describe some shit. Jump out. It's the perfect short story!

But the point of all this ranting is that I tried to make a large something out of a small something. Stretching that short story into a full-length novel consumed a ton of my mental capital, stalled me out, and frustrated me.

I mean, do you know how many times I started the novel! I must've written 50k words just trying to get ~started~ on Percy Freebottom. Plots. Characters. Research. Talking to people, getting their opinions, proof-reading, test-reading... and I threw it all away!

So the lesson is this: If it's short story, make it a short story. If it's a novel, make it a novel. If it's a novelette, or a poem, or a haiku, or a blog post, or an email, leave it as such!

Don't fuck with the worms! They know what's best. Trust em.

Let em dig, and don't question why they only dig a few feet, or why they want to wiggle their slimy little bellies all the way to the core of the Earth.

It's just what they do.

Let em dig. Dig dig dig!

- Eric

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