This was the week. Monday, August 13 was Tor’s deadline for novella submissions. Followers of this blog know I’ve worked most of the summer on combining three of my unpublished stories into a single novella. This involved expanding the third such story from a flash fiction piece to a significantly lengthier piece to meet Tor’s minimum length requirement of 20,000 words. While working on this project, I encountered two issues, which I detailed in Post #31 (involving not submitting my best work) and Post #32 (involving a submissions dilemma).
Well, I resolved both issues by not submitting the novella. This was a difficult decision, but I believe the right one. Because of the looming deadline, I sent the finished novella to my beta readers with not much turnaround time. Two managed to get through the 21,100 words, and both had the same comment—the ending didn’t resolve anything. In other words, it wasn’t an ending at all.
The interesting part is, I had the same critique. Often, I need a beta reader to point out a flaw in a work. This time, I knew the flaw going in. In order to meet the minimum word count, I had added a scene beyond the ending of the original third story. I like the added scene, but it opened up an entirely new avenue of the story, which I then didn’t explore. I was rushing to finish the story, so I’d have time to edit it and send it out to my beta readers. So the story has no proper ending; it just stops, and my beta readers were left unsatisfied. If they felt that way, there’s no way the editors at Tor would accept it.
That’s when I decided not to submit the novella. I already had qualms about not submitting my best work, and my beta readers’ comments only solidified those qualms. This is my longest work to date, and I want to do it right. I want to have the best chance at cracking the pinnacle of sci-fi publishing.
So, I have a new plan. Initially, I’ll chop off the first of the three stories. As I expanded the end of the novella, I realized the first part no longer fit. The story had morphed into something different. With the first story separated from its sequels, I’ll start submitting that story to markets again as a stand alone piece.
Then, I’ll continue to take the novella wherever the last scene leads. I haven’t figured out what that entails yet, but I’m excited to find out. Once I’ve written a proper ending, I’ll see if my beta readers agree. Hopefully, Tor or another market will be open at that time for novella submissions because mine will be ready to head out the door.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever purposely failed at a writing goal because you knew it was the better way to proceed.
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