When a Story Goes Astray

Okay, I’ll admit it. I goofed. I started writing what I thought would be a sweet Christmas novella for the 2017 Christmas boxed set by the Authors of Main Street. Except my simple story has grown in length. The guidelines we follow are pretty relaxed and simple for these boxed sets. All new, great stories of novella length, 18K-40K words (I promise no one counts words), holiday themed (often an underlying theme), and no cliffhangers.

Here’s the dilemma. A romance usually ends in certain places such as the commitment for a lasting relationship such as an engagement ring or a wedding ring. So what have I done? He’s given her the engagement ring, actually without too much fanfare. The hardest part was getting to the point of asking. 😉  But I’m about to tip over the max word count.  I really need another 20k-30k words to finish this story. If I wrap it up for Christmas, I’m missing a big chunk of the story!

  • So do I rip part of the story away? No, because I’m not going to take the life out of this story.
  • Do I quickly tie up the story and put a bow on it? I hate reading stories where I’m so into the characters that when a writer does that I want to scream no and never read that author again.
  • Do I just tip over the word count and warn my fellow authors out here on Main Street? Oops! I think I just told them. (It’s not nice to hog the space in the boxed set.)
  • Or do I write this one until I feel it’s finished, and then write another for the boxed set? Time! I need more time!!

And there’s one more problem, I already know this is not going to end on that wonderful wedding. If I ended it there, I think my readers would be furious with me. Why? Because in the real world, it wouldn’t make sense. I can’t change the timeline of certain events. Darnit! The readers would be left hanging. Not a cliffhanger, but leaving them with the feeling that they were shortchanged, because they are left with all those life questions.

So I’m sitting here making the only decision that makes any sense. It’s extremely basic.  Write the story until it ends. Write the whole story, otherwise it won’t be a great story. So I’m about to go way over word count and that means I’ll have to write another story for the boxed set. I can do that.

This story tips the scale into literary fiction more than romance, even though there’s a romance tangled into it. This is a journey of two people who had found each other and have fallen madly in love. But the journey is not easy. Getting to their HEA (happily ever after) isn’t going to be solved with a wedding. It’s too complicated.

Real life is a walk through a maze filled with roses. There are plenty of thorns on those canes. The most beautiful roses often have no scent, the lowliest ones can be the sweetest, and some of the hardiest ones can be vicious with thorns. But if you take the time during the journey, you will discover the finch’s nest, the green tree frog hiding in the petals, the dizzying hum of the bees, the lady bug, and countless other creatures along the way. But there will always be those thorns, waiting to grab at your legs or shirt sleeve.  So I willingly took the path with an ending in mind, but somehow I plucked a rose and found myself tangled in thorns. Yet the air is sweet, and filled with song.

I can explain story arcs to a room filled with wannabe writers. I can teach them to write a beginning, a middle, and an end. But I can’t tell them how to stay within a word count because every story will demand a certain number of words. If I ended this one with a Christmas wedding, then my readers would be furious because there’s an arc that must be completed.

So I have strayed down a path. I’m not sorry for what I’ve done. In fact, I’m thrilled with this story.  It’s just not going to be a novella. There’s a great big story in this manuscript, and it needs to be told.

Guess I’ll have to write another story for our Christmas boxed set.

This entry was posted in E.'s Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to When a Story Goes Astray

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:

    This is a post from one of my fellow authors on Authors of Main Street. The dilemmas of, as Joanna Penn recently told me to, writing short!

    I, too, have to write one of these short, contemporary stories for our Christmas Boxed Set…
    I hear too many of you laughing.

    Come on over to Authors of Main Street and have a peek!

    Liked by 4 people

    • E. Ayers says:

      I tend to always be one of the longer stories in the set. Maybe some day I’ll learn to write really short stories. But this one got away from me! I should have realized this story would be too big. 😦

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Carol says:

    I feel for you, E. It is hard to write short. Write the story until it’s done! A thought. Could you make it two books? Can’t wait to read the book. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. jackiemaurer says:

    It’s amazing how our characters take over and run the show. Enjoy writing both books, E! Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. ginaarditoauthor says:

    All I know is my characters better behave. I’m already writing two other Christmas stories. No way I can fit in a fourth! Congrats on coming up with a meaty story and having the wherewithal to see it through to its natural end rather than force it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • E. Ayers says:

      Seeing this one through until the end will make it a better story. And it’s probably way too serious of a story for Xmas. It’s a happy story- it’s not dark or anything, but you know how I write. Besides, these characters do not want to behave!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. bmevc says:

    Hello again, Ladies! been mucking around with my ‘very serious bio’. is this too off-scale or is it as funny as it sounds to me? Does it convey anything in particular to you? thanks. L

    Dr. Lizzi Tremayne is the writing pseudonym of Elizabeth Thompson, BA (Hons.), DVM, MANZCVS (Equine Dentistry), GradDipTeach (Secondary Bio/Chem), an overeducated underachiever practicing equine veterinary medicine and writing novels and horsey-veterinary non-fiction. That is, when she’s not playing with her myriad animals or reenacting medieval times with horse and rapier on her idyllic riverside farmlet at the base of the New Zealand Coromandel ranges.

    Elizabeth Thompson writing as Lizzi Tremayne Elizabeth Thompson BA DVM MANZCVS (Eq Dent) GradDipTeach(Sec Sci) Blue Mist Equine Veterinary Centre, Ltd. Waihi, New Zealand +64 07 863 9312 home/ work +64 027 208 0631cell (doesn’t work at home/clinic) liz@bmevc.co.nz

    Finalist RWNZ Great Beginnings Contest 2013 Winner RWNZ Pacific Hearts 2014 Winner RWNZ Koru Award 2015 for Best First Book and 3rd place Long Novel

    Ema i l Webpage Facebook Buy: Books available in good bookstores and at Buy Link

    ‘It might have been the mare that did it, stopping dead in her tracks, nearly dropping Aleksandra over her shoulder, or maybe it was the flies that buzzed around the blood pooling beneath the butchered man in the Express station doorway. Whichever it was, it got her full attention.’ From A Long Trail Rolling by Lizzi Tremayne



  6. leighmorgan1 says:

    E., it doesn’t sound like your story went astray, it sounds like it has evolved into something beautiful and complex. Finish it. Be true to it. You can write something wonderful for the boxset as well. There’s time and a place for both. I love the Celtic knot rings in your photo—Celtic knots are by their very nature complex and yet they flow with no beginning and no end. Seamless. Elegant. And soul-stirring. I’m sure you story will be all those things. Go For It!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jill James says:

    I love that with self-publishing we can write any story length we want. I think my story in the first boxed set was 6,000 words or something like that. LOL I write very lean and have to go back and layer and enrich and add, add, add.

    Liked by 1 person

Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.