I just wrapped the first section of Green
at 65,000 words. (Oddly, the length of the entire novel Rocket Science [ Powell's | Amazon ]
.) As I noted before, this corresponds to the full 6,700 words of the original short story published in Aeon
. I used the short story as a very close writing outline for this section of the novel. Everything that follows will be much looser.
Following the New Model Process, I need to go back and do some internal edits and expansions. Previously, I would have made a few production notes and plowed onward at all due speed. Believe it or not, I'm writing slower here than I used to.
This part of the novel is almost exactly mapped to the short story. I added a number of scenes which were only implied in the short piece, but there's only one real twist away from the earlier text, and that's to introduce a new secondary character who will be important later in the book. I had to change some of the action to support that. Still, if one read the two side by side, the correspondences would be obvious. For example, ( Collapse )( Collapse )
The key transition here is from the "implied" of the short story to the much wider reveals of the novel. The short story never gives any details about the interior of the building. In the next sentence after the one above, she's outside. In the novel draft, she goes on for several more pages before being outside. Some of that is description, some of it is action, some of it is dialog, some of it is inner monolog. Yadda yadda.
The point is that the details unpack, and unpack again. If I wanted or need to, I could go back into the detail of the novel and unpack another layer. What kind of wood? What weave of carpet? Did the air smell scorched, ionized, or of gravedust? How afraid was she of what she might find in empty halls? What noises lay behind the doors she passed?
Fiction is fractal. It unrolls and unrolls and unrolls. Where flash is a cameo, the short story is a miniature. Novelettes and novellas give breathing room, while the novel is a fresco on a wall of infinite size. The hardest thing about transitioning from being a short story writer to being a novelist, as I am still doing, is learning to unroll those layers. Right now, I'm learning to stop
unrolling them — I've gone from underwriting to overwriting. The New Model Process is tuning me back in.
There's a real thrill to paring it all down to the tiny stubs of meaningful prose that a short story slithers upon. I'm still growing into the thrill of the mile-high chicken legs with which a novel strides across the raddled landscape of my imagination.