Tag Archives: novella

Have You Ever Made Yourself Cry?

After spending all of July 4th working on the first revision of the Aanora story, I wasn’t certain when I’d get that much time again to work on it. I completed over half, exceeding my goal by 18 pages. So it was a good day’s work. Then, as it worked out last weekend, I ended up having all of Sunday afternoon to devote to writing instead of the piecemeal work I usually do on weekends. So I decided to finish the first revision of the Aanora story. And I did.

And I made myself cry.

A complete surprise! As I came to the end of the novella, immersed in that world and the characters, what I’d written made me incredibly sad. I hadn’t thought of it as a sad ending, actually, which is the reason for my surprise. I didn’t think the ending had any kind of emotional punch. It was the ending of that story. Period. But as I was reading that last scene, I started crying, sad for the characters who were saying good-bye. I wasn’t sad that I’d finished the story because I still have work to do on it. I wasn’t sad that I’d never see the characters again because I will.

Now I’m really interested to know how other people will react to the ending, and it will be something I will ask my beta readers. Is it a sad ending?

I’ve wondered also if it’s truly a good thing when something I’ve written affects me emotionally. Is it a good thing when the writing makes the writer laugh? Or cry? Or angry? If it’s someone else’s writing, that’s different. But what about my own writing? If my writing triggers an emotional response in me, does that mean it will trigger an emotional response in readers?

Some time ago, I remember vaguely reading something on the internet somewhere, perhaps a blog post or maybe it was a craft article in a writing magazine, that if a writer’s own words can make herself respond emotionally, especially when the writer knows the characters and story inside and out, it’s a particularly good sign that it will emotionally move readers. What immediately pops into my mind is the opening of the movie Romancing the Stone when Kathleen Turner’s romance novelist character finishes writing a novel in tears. (As a writer, I always wondered which draft she was finishing.) Will it really?

When I finished the first draft, I didn’t cry. I was kind of relieved. I’d finished it. I had already begun to think of the stories that the novella had suggested to me, mulling over when to write them or not, and which one to write first. Then I turned to the two short stories I was also working on. Then I also had a brief period of frustration about working on everything else but not Perceval’s Shadow. It was imperative to leave the Aanora story for a while to ferment. It fermented for 6 weeks during which I rarely gave it a thought. Coming back to it for the first revision felt extremely good, and I was excited to have a whole day to start the work. So my emotional state was not anywhere near where I ended up when I finished the first revision.

Where is Aanora now? I’ve put it away again to ferment some more. I wonder if the ending will make me cry again when I do the second revision?

Update: Aanora Story

On July 23, 2017, I first wrote about the new character in my writing life, Aanora, and how she appeared. It’s now been eight months and what I thought was going to be a short story has turned into a novella of almost 13,000 words so far, and I’m still writing the first draft. Aanora herself has evolved and grown, and her magic has given me the opportunity to play around with narrative and action in ways I’ve not had before. I definitely see the appeal of Fantasy stories, but Aanora’s story is most definitely in the realm of Science Fiction.

The fourth planet in the Reederian 7 system loomed large on the view screen. The green and brown land masses competed with cobalt blue water that covered about half of the planet. Wisps of white cloud floated here and there. No volcanic or seismic activity registered on the starship’s instruments.

A brief description of Aanora’s planet. It is M class, teeming with life, but Aanora is the only sentient on the planet.  She describes the other life forms as being on the cusp of sentience. That idea really intrigued me. What does it mean to be on the cusp of sentience? The Planet of the Apes series of movies explores this notion, from what I understand, but I haven’t seen the most recent movies. The wildlife on Aanora’s planet is not friendly toward humans, however, but predators of them.

Standing in front of the granite wall was a tall figure wearing a long gold-shimmering sage green hooded cloak. The hood covered the figure’s head and left the face in shadow…. The figure’s arms rose…. Pale humanoid hands pushed back the cloak’s hood to reveal a female head with long black hair streaked a coppery red. The oval face appeared smooth and youthful, with a small nose. Her mouth opened in a radiant smile, her brilliant emerald green eyes focused on the captain as a golden light shimmered all around her.

Aanora’s first appearance in the story. She had emerged out of a granite cliff in which she was merged while the backs of the human explorers were toward her. She has abilities that the human explorers find both inspiring and intimidating. I’ve learned that she’s an accomplished diplomat, and her life has intersected humanity’s often. She has lived on earth, worked in a coffee shop. She is also over 200 earth years old. Her story has drawn me away from earth and demanded that I look at the Milky Way Galaxy as well as the larger physical universe with all my curiosity. It has been both fascinating and intimidating.

And what is her magic? I had originally thought of her as being a wizard, but I was quite wrong about that. What appears to humans as “magic” is really nothing more than her normal abilities. Aanora comes from a different dimension, a different universe with different laws from ours. She takes human form because humans were the first sentient beings that she met when she first entered our universe. I have yet to discover what motivated her to come into our universe, although I have a feeling that it will come up in this novella I’m working on now. And I’ve already seen that Aanora has many stories surrounding her life that I could explore if I so chose. A rich and deep character is an incredible gift from the imagination.

The villain in Aanora’s story has actually changed several times. The most recent one is directly related to Aanora and her presence in our universe rather than the human explorers who discover her. The questions that have come up now are about what role the human explorers will play — will they help or hinder Aanora? Are they innocent bystanders in a much larger conflict or victims? — and just how they all get out of the nearly impossible situation they are heading for. I know the ending, but I don’t yet know how I’ll get there. As it stands now, writing this story in pieces has actually served my writing process very well.  I have two more sections to write and then I’ll have a complete first draft.

I am astonished.

Getting Started…again…and again….

“Aanora’s eyes”

The last two weeks or so have been full of life concerns and chores so I haven’t had much time to work on fiction. No, that’s not correct.  I didn’t have much time to sit at my computer and put words on screen, but I was actually working a lot on the Aanora story. That is, thinking about various scenes, asking my imagination lots of questions, and getting a handle on plot points. I’m starting to get a sense of its length, too, and it could end up novella length.  Which is fine.  I’ve not written a novella before.  Always a first time.

What niggled and nagged at me the last two weeks was the beginning. How to start? I have fairly stable scenes down that are in the middle and at the end.  I know now that the story doesn’t begin with Aanora, but with a set of characters at a diplomatic conference. It took me two weeks to get that far.  Yesterday, I decided to devote the afternoon to the beginning with the hope that I’d be able to get something down on screen.  I scrapped what I originally wrote and the first revision and started over. Then I closed my eyes to put myself in the meeting chamber where delegations from 25 planets were enjoying drinks and hors d’oeuvres at a reception.

Who are the sentient beings attending this conference? Do I need to name and describe each one? Ugh. I don’t think that’s needed. But I do need to name and describe the two parties who collide into a dispute. And then the human delegation that gets pulled into the dispute, challenged to find Aanora. They’ve never heard of Aanora, but understand from what the disputing parties tell them that she is the only mediator they will both accept. I realized that the leader of the human delegation (the main character) feels deeply insecure about his diplomatic skills and would like to find a mentor who can help him. And then there is this other niggling in my mind: one of the disputing parties is not known for accepting mediation.  They are known for taking what they want and leaving. So right away, I have the feeling that something is not right.

Where I write

Tension.  A great thing to have at the beginning of a story.  That sense of not knowing what’s going to happen, wondering what’s going on, what’s going to happen next. I was quite heartened with what I ended up with yesterday. I feel much more secure with this beginning than the others I’d written. It may be rewritten or edited in the future, but I now have my starting point for the story.

Another result of my thinking: getting to know the main character better. He’s a physical person, someone who prefers to act rather than think. He operates a lot on instinct, but isn’t good at reading people. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares in this story, if he’s truly open to learning, and if he can figure out what’s going on.  I already know when and how he meets Aanora.  I hope I’ll have more time next weekend for work on the story at the computer!