My New Novella: The Process Begins…

With yesterday’s update, I mentioned my new novella, Chiggers, and said that I’d post updates following the process. Since me saying that I’ve started a novella called Chiggers doesn’t necessarily mean that there will one day be published a novella called Chiggers, this could be an interesting look at the insanity of my process.

So let’s start by taking a quick look at my contract with DarkFuse:

  • The deadline is March 1, 2014.
  • Length between 17,500 and 35,000 words.
  • Must be a stand-alone work.

And that’s pretty much it. Obviously, since DarkFuse is a horror publisher, I ought not to turn in a romantic western, but as long as I stick to the horror genre, I can write anything I want.

Every once in a while an idea will come to me and I’ll write the opening to a story with no idea where it’s headed, and often with no immediate plans to keep working on it. So a couple of months ago I wrote about 600 words of what I figured would be some kind of crime novel. Then I put it away.

Last week, I decided that it was time to at least figure out what my DarkFuse novella is going to be about. I wrote a couple pages of something that would be extremely dark, but only in its final scenes. The rest would be a long, non-horror buildup to a shocking conclusion. I will almost certainly return to this project at some point, but for now, I decided that it’s not the right fit.

So I went back to the crime novel opening and thought, “What can I do to turn this into something that’s absolutely batsh*t insane?” I’ve been wanting to return to the “bugs run amok” genre since last tackling it over a decade ago with Mandiblesand I’d had an idea for something called Chiggers which went no further than “Chiggers would be a cool idea for a book,” and I decided to Frankenstein them together.

With that in mind, I added a couple more pages to the project (though no chiggers have shown up yet). I’ve got two characters in the already-written section, and I know the other three characters that are going to show up, and deadly chiggers are going to be involved, and…well, that’s all I’ve got so far.

Tomorrow I’ll post the first piece that I wrote, before I had any idea where it was headed.


8 Responses to “My New Novella: The Process Begins…”

  1. Fabian Elfeld Says:

    Seems really interesting to me that your contract is so vague. Is there noch even some kind of quality evaluation clause in there? Since I’ve not yet found a way to turn my writing into money, I have no idea what I’m talking about, so this might be a ridiculously stupid question, but if you’re willing to indulge my cluelessness: What would happen if you just handed in 17,500 “Uhm”s, or perhaps more realistically, wrote something they really don’t like and would be embarrassed to publish?
    (Now that came out wrong. I didn’t mean to name this as the realistic option for you, I just … You see?)


    • jeffstrand Says:

      Those were only the relevant bullet points from the contract. It’s actually about four pages single-spaced, and (like all publishing contracts) includes a clause where the publisher has to officially approve the manuscript. So if I turned in a bad book, they could just say “No!” There’s also stuff about editorial changes, etc.


      • Fabian Elfeld Says:

        I thought as much.
        Is there a proces in there about what to do if they say no? Ist that just their decision, or do you name someone to adjudicate if you insist it’s a good effort but they disagree?


      • jeffstrand Says:

        It would never come down to adjudication. Basically, both sides are responsible for making a good faith effort to work together, but ultimately the publisher gets to decide what books they put out. So if I turn in CHIGGERS, and DarkFuse says “This is CRAP! Total crap! What’s the matter with you, Strand? I thought you were better than this. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am with this halfhearted effort” I could plead my case, but I can’t say “Oh, you WILL publish CHIGGERS, you son of a bitch! There’s nothing you can do about it!”

        What happens then? In this particular contract, I’d have three months to replace it with another horror novella, and I could do whatever I wanted with CHIGGERS. Sometimes there are “kill fees” involved where the author will still get a partial payment. It all varies.

        That said, when a book is contracted before it’s written, the publisher already has a pretty good idea of what they’re going to get. I’ve worked with Shane on several books, so the assumption is that my new book will also be a good fit.


      • Fabian Elfeld Says:

        I understand the good faith part and stuff, but what is left of the actual function of a contract if one side, upon fulfilment of the other, has the power to just say: “Nope, don’t like it, not gonna pay.” without any mechanism of adjudication?
        I mean, sure, I also get the reasons for this, but is this not almost the same situation as having no contract at all?
        (Mind, I’m not trying to tell you how to run your busines. Just asking questions because I have no clue.)


  2. Tod Clark Says:

    Due 2004!?! That is what I call a bit behind on deadline!


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