My Best Writing Advice

My first novel was imperfect, the ending wasn’t right at all, even after I rewrote it. I believe this is because the concept for this novel was subpar. After this failure, I shifted towards short stories, novella’s really at 30-40 pages a pop. I wrote three in a row. My first novella had some potential, it was a lot of fun to write, and it was great to experiment with so little dedication, only took me maybe 40 days to write. The next short story was truly awful! My editor’s critique was pretty hilarious, so I decided to chuck it. However, in failure of a story, the anti-hero had a great backstory–there was something really here, I just needed to give him a new story–and that’s when I wrote The Fall of Mephisto. A 30 page post-apocalyptic novella that was my best story, my editor was happy for me and said so much. My friend Aline said she wished it was longer, and I really thought about that comment for a long while, but I felt a spiritual reckoning, and so the need to find my center again began, and I engulfed myself in Dante’s Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, and Goethe’s Faust.

Writing short stories and novella’s is a great way to explore your depths, to search for your best story you have to offer, that you can ultimately turn into a novel, and you’d be amazed to see how you can use bits and pieces from other parts of your short stories during this period of short bursts of discovery. For me, I was going through something, and looking at those 3 stories, I can see how they all fit together now, but in new, more inventive ways. So that’s my best advice, take your chance on low risk novella’s until one of them deserves long-form attention. The Fall of Mephisto was a great skeleton for the novel I’m currently finishing. I also want to say that my greatest failure provided me with my main protagonist in my novel, so without that failure, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now, so it’s okay to fail, we still learn in failing. Good luck out there! =)

-Stephen Pedersen


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