I started a writing project a couple of months ago. I don’t remember when, exactly, maybe early May. It’s urban fantasy, and I didn’t quite know where I was going with it, but there were three things I knew for sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and with complete confidence.
1. I knew it wasn’t going to be a novel.
2. I knew that it was going to be one person’s story, told in that person’s point of view exclusively. Within her POV, I intended to play with voice, and tense, and even POV (I know that sounds weird) shifting from close- 3rd person to, rarely, second person. Still, it was going to be all her. Only her. Only her for the whole thing, which was probably going to be a novella because See: 1 Above.
3. I also knew that an institutionalized character who gets named fairly early in the piece would have very little to do with the story. They are institutionalized to make a certain point about what’s going on; and also to limit the number of characters I had to juggle, because I was getting quite a crowd. Also, I didn’t want to draw too much attention to the person who is locked away because I don’t want any more echoes of a cheesy 90s horror movie called Final Destination than I already had.
(Oops! It’s not a 90s film – it came out in 2000.)
Okay, so while I had an inkling of a story and I knew about my characters, I didn’t really have a handle on a plot yet, but at least I had three rock-solid, cast-in-steel, pick-your-metaphor principles from which I would not deviate.
Brandy and I meet weekly for a writing appointment. About four weeks ago:
Brandy: D’you think it might be a novel?
Me: Nope. Not a novel. A long novella, maybe, not a novel.
Brandy: How long is it now?
Me: Ummm… about 20,000 words.
That was then. Now it’s about 38,000 words, which is fine, could still be a novella, only plot-wise (yes, now I do have a plot,) the story is somewhere between one-third and one-half done. If you picture an analog clock-face, the hands are at 4:30. A quick calculation puts the final word count, minimum, at around 90,000. That’s not a novella. That’s a naah–. That’s a naahvuh–. Nope. Won’t say it. I just won’t say it. I’m calling it “the project.”
Time and words rolled on, and one other time Brandy and I were talking and I was explaining about one of my refugee characters, who had been destined to be a political ruler – let’s say a queen — in her home dimension.
Brandy: It sounds like her story’s interesting. Will we get any of the book, er, I mean, story, in her point of view?
Me: Oh, no. Never. This entire project is in Miranda’s point of view.
Brandy: Even though her story is so… ?
Me: Yep. Miranda’s POV. Miranda’s POV all the way. No question. I don’t know much about what’s going on here, but I know that, for sure.
Two days later I started writing a 5,000 word section in the refugee character’s point of view, as she recounts her childhood and her deposition to Miranda. It isn’t just background. It’s going into the project. I could try to hedge and say that Miranda is listening to this story being told and therefore it’s still her POV but… even I don’t buy that.
At least I have stayed steadfast to my principle that Nieve, the character whose family had her institutionalized is not a major plot point and doesn’t need to be included any more than she already is. I mean, just because she thinks she saw demons, only she really did see demons (or at least, visitors) and…
Refugee Queen in Exile: Well, who did you see?
Miranda: Me? I didn’t see anybody.
Refugee Queen in Exile: There must have been somebody who saw them and can tell us what they looked like!
Miranda: Um… well, actually…
So much for certainties.
Here’s something I can say with certainty… the project is being presented in Times New Roman 12 pt font. I know this for sure.