What I’m Re(writing) Now: Alpha

I will do a book post about the current novel, after I do another Venice post, after I do a Scotland post. Or I’ll do whatever I want. But what am I writing RIGHT NOW? Yes, okay, this entry. But you know, fiction-wise?

I would like to get something out the door for next year, so I have returned briefly to the novella formerly known as The Were-humans. I’ve read through notes from two workshops, one contest, and some feedback from some careful readers, I have a steady compass on where I’d like the story to go, and I’m using the comments that resonate with me. I also had a conversation with the husband in the car the other day that should help me solve my problems with the ending.

The new title for the novella is Alpha. Many readers suggest that Alpha should be a short story, others a novel, but for my purposes, I want it to be a novella. I believe that it does need to lengthen, and it should. I can see ways in which I can get another 5-10K in there. The largest change is going to be our main character Alice’s pro-activity. Previous endings have found Alice unbelievably Rambo and unbelievably a victim. This new approach helps make sense of Alice’s growth in the situation, and is a much more organic outgrowth of the events that happen in the story.

For those of you not familiar with the piece, Oscar Springs is based on the town where I grew up. That’s why Oscar Springs has gotten a little too descriptive in the initial drafts. I’ll really be toning up what’s necessary to move the story forward, and, alas, cutting some beautiful writing. (By the way, the real writing strength I have is beautiful prose. It can often fool people into thinking there is more plot and character there, and I’m working on making sure there is something behind those poetic turns.) The other inspiration for the piece is, strangely enough, Pinnochio. There are mutations in my story like those kids being turned into donkeys in the film. Scary stuff, man.

Also, I need to be thinking about some of those other characters’ interactions with Alice and what they’re doing when they aren’t front and center, because some of that will intersect with Alice’s activities. I also have to commit to some ideas. As a drafter, I’m a muddy writer, and I sometimes won’t commit to ideas or make definite decisions until the very end of my drafting process. Now, I have a pretty clear idea what the town knows about the situation, what it doesn’t, where and when the supernatural bits should happen, and where the showdown will take place.

Feeling pretty good about that. My goal is to see to this polish and triage as soon as I can and send it off to its first locale. After that, it’s back to the Klarion novel, so I can start seeing how the second act falls out from the first. I still want the first draft of that done by the end of January, and I want it circulating by the end of June.


In other news, there are 4 movies coming out over the holidays, for good or ill, that I want to see: Saving Mr. Banks, Walking with Dinosaurs, 47 Ronin, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. That’s a lot of holiday movies still coming out for us. I think there’s a lot of popcorn in Bryon and my future. I know some of those are of dubious quality. Don’t judge me.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

One thought on “What I’m Re(writing) Now: Alpha”

  1. Sounds like a good plan. I have a terrible fear of commitment when I write, so I know how that goes.

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