It’s my fault really. I knew I didn’t have enough time, but I jumped in anyway like I always do.
So I’m giving up on the novella. Well, that’s not totally true. I’m sticking with the characters and the idea, but I’m not writing it as a novella and I’m not going to enter it in the contest I was writing for. That certainly sucks, I’ve spent almost two months on it and gotten up to 14k words, but I’m just not going to have the time to finish the draft and then get it polished in time. And if I absolutely know that won’t happen, it seems silly to waste another month even trying. A few good things have come out of this experience though:
1) My traditional mystery plotting doesn’t suck as bad as it used to. It’s still my weakest point by an embarrassingly large margin, but there were flashes of good things in this story. I planted clues and had some good misdirection and even a great idea for the Big Reveal. Given another two or three months I think I could have banged it into submission. Alas, I started too late
2) I gained a new appreciation for the variety of fiction available in the two mainstream mystery magazines Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen. I’ve heard from several people that my cliched and outdated expectations of magazines full of cozies and toothless dreck don’t hold true, but I had to see it for myself. I read several current issues and was struck by the variety and depth. While it’s true that there isn’t much swearing or graphic sex and violence, there are still quite a few powerful and dark stories. I no longer think my style has nothing to offer those magazines.
So what I’m going to do, is strip off all the who-dunnit crap I added to this story and work it back into the funny caper story I always envisioned it being about a computer repo guy and a junky car full of computers that keeps disappearing. But I strongly encourage even the hardest noir fans here to have a look at what the Big Two are doing for a genre.