I never planned to write any short stories. But when I was preparing to self-publish my first novel, a lot of people advised me to start by releasing a free story to help market the novel and to give people a taste of my writing before they committed to buying a full-length book. So I picked my favorite side character from the novel, Pretty Pinchworth, and wrote a short story about her learning to drive. (Which you can find here for free if you haven’t read it yet.)
But then Pretty wouldn’t go away. She informed me she had a story arc that needed telling; true to her stubborn character, she wouldn’t leave me alone until I planned two more short stories to take place in the gaps between the Royal Invstigative Service novels. Well, I told myself, that was just fine. It would be nice to have something short to publish between novels to help keep my audience engaged and eager for the next book.
So I started working on Pretty’s second short story, but much to my surprise, Pretty’s determination to gain the spotlight had rubbed off on her boyfriend Denny, who insisted that this second story was actually supposed to be written from his perspective. He was right, but that threw a wrench in my plans. Focusing on Denny meant I wasn’t able to advance Pretty’s arc in this story the way I’d originally intended.
Obviously that meant I’d need to add another story. That’s where I am in the process now: drafting the third story about Pretty and Denny. Like the second story, this one will take place between books one and two of the Royal Investigative Service; but this time, I’m writing from Pretty’s point of view again, taking her another step closer to freedom and equality for herself, her family, and all fairies.
All well and good, but I’d barely started writing when Denny came knocking on the inside of my head again. He wasn’t satisfied with just one story. Now that I’ve introduced his point of view, clearly I’m going to start alternating stories told from his perspective and Pretty’s perspective, right? Which means the story set between books two and three of the Royal Investigative Service has to be about him, right?
Well, yes, as it turns out, that story would work better from Denny’s perspective. But now I face the same problem I encountered with the second story: switching to Denny’s point of view means de-emphasizing the character arc I already planned for Pretty. Which means adding yet another story to continue the initial plan. So the events that would have been story three now become stories four and five.
As I considered this new plan, both Pretty and Denny (by now quite accustomed to demanding more from me) showed up to insist that in fact there should be just one more story. And not a short story this time, no. Since I was already writing this much about them, why not finish off their arc with a novella? A novella would do nicely, thank you.
There was really no point in arguing. Once the idea entered my head, I knew it wouldn’t go away. And come to think of it, there was an important piece of worldbuilding that I wanted to introduce, but I hadn’t yet decided how to tell that story — and what do you know, that story would be a brilliant way to end Pretty and Denny’s arc.
So what was originally intended to be a single introductory short story has turned into a much larger arc for two delightful characters as well as a vehicle for some very important worldbuilding. It came a bit out of nowhere, but I’m very pleased with the new plan. And in case you didn’t quite follow the convolutions of this tale, here’s a nice orderly list of all the stories I’ll end up with:
- “Magic and Motor-Cars, or How a Fairy Moved Up in the World”
- The Case of the Dragon-Bone Engine (Royal Investigative Service 1)
- “Magical Mechanics, or How a Fairy Found his Place”
- “Magical Moonlighting, or ______” (subtitle not yet determined, Pretty’s POV, coming August 2022)
- The Case of the Golden Vigilante (Royal Investigative Service 2) coming February 2023
- “Magical Methodology” (very uncertain working title, Denny’s POV)
- “Untitled Short Story” (Pretty’s POV)
- The Case of the Fairy Experiment (Royal Investigative Service 3)
- Magic and ____, or How to Fly without Wings (novella, has sections from both Pretty’s and Denny’s POVs)
Pretty and Denny’s first five stories will initially be available only as ebooks, since they’re too short to be worth printing individually. However, when I get to their final story, I plan to publish that as part of an anthology, including the five short stories as well as the novella. This means that ultimately, there will be four volumes in this series: the three RIS books, plus the compilation of Pretty and Denny’s six stories. The complete series is a long way off, but I’m already imagining the four books lined up on a bookshelf with matching covers, and I’m really excited to reach that point someday.