Professor Whitney’s Last Letter (Not Yet in the Can)

I finally rampaged my way to the end of Professor Whitney’s Last Letter. The ending was holding out on me, but I think I’ve got one that will work, if I massage it a little. I’ll be giving it another look tomorrow to cut a few hunks of unnecessary material, and what I can improve. It’d be nice if I could get the story down to 5,000 words, but since it’s now 8,550, I’m shooting for 6,500 words. I’ve cut some of the lighter comedy and substituted in some more bizarreness and darker humor.

While I’m on a roll, I’m rereading the beginning of “A Killing in Burma” — actually, the beginning and middle. I’m only in need of the end, namely a mere 3,000 words (and I hope that’s all, because if it goes over 20,000 words it will be a hard, hard sell!). However, it’s been so long since I worked on it that I have to let the ending percolate a little before I try to write it, even with my notes and all. It’s a somewhat different feel than Prof. Whitney’s tale, and I want to keep the voices distinct, so I’m just rereading for now, with a little judicious editing along the way.I’m thinking that at the length it is, 20,000 words, it might be just as wise to submit it to the current Tesseracts call for fiction (which, for the first time to my knowledge, is all-novellas!), where it might have a decent chance, rather than sending it to one of the Big 3 where its chances are slimmer and the wait would make it impossible for me to submit to Tesseracts and leaving me with very few markets to choose from.

Decisions, decicions. In any case, the thing needs to get finished before I can send it anywhere, which means drafting an ending, printing it up, reading, thinking, editing, fixing, and proofreading. (And maybe getting crits if I’m needing some feedback.) All before I can even think of sending it out. I guess I’ll focus on what I can do now, which is bringing myself back up to speed on what’s happening in Mandalay, Burma [actually, a backwater, newly-acquired corner of the Second Great Khmer Empire] sometime towards the middle of this century we’ve just begun.

UPDATE: I’ve read it. Sob. It’s actually 16,700 words, and while I think none of what’s there is unnecessary or boring — and I am happy with it being funnier in parts than I remember — it’s just getting to the good part. I’m starting to wonder if it’s not a novella at all but some kind of short novel or something. Because I can see it easily stretching into the 50,000 to 60,000 word territory. Hmm. But not much more than that, unless some more plotlines get worked into it.


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