More permutations

My new novel to be, The Road to Environmental Armageddon, has three distinct parts. Each has between 40,000 and 50,000 words. If I combine them into one book, it will be a rather massive 130000 to 140000 word epic. That’s bigger than I’d like, but three separate 40,000 to 50,000 word novellas are less than ideal.

The version I sent to beta readers combines part one and two into an 85000 word novel. A good length in my view, and if I took part three and added a few chapters to make a darker, more dramatic ending (something I needed to do anyway), I’d have a perfectly acceptable 60000 to 70000 word sequel.

Feedback I’m getting suggests parts one and two aren’t adequately integrated to make a good story – part one focuses on a pair of protagonists, part two on a different pair. This has me thinking about a different approach – publish part one as a novella, a sort of prequel to the main story that combines the better integrated parts two and three. It would have the added chapters that make a more dramatic ending.

I’ve now revised and edited part three including my new ending. I’ll wait for more feedback on my current 85000 version that combines the original parts one and two, then decide how to proceed.

Here is a potential cover for the prequel (part one). It uses The Souring Seas, the original title I had for the story, a title that relates to part one better than to the other parts, and the cover photo my writing colleague, Judi Risser, gave me.

_DSC1296 3 copy 2-002

The main book (The Road to Environmental Armageddon) needs a more sinister picture. The one I’m currently playing with was posted by Paul Keiffer on unsplash. It, or something like it, might work because forest fires play a major role in my darker ending. Tell me what you think.


I feel like I’m going around in circles with this story. Is it spiraling out of control or am I circling, getting closer and closer to the ideal solution? The latter, I hope, but I fear the former is closer to the truth.

4 thoughts on “More permutations

  1. Dear Phil, if there is something I have learned over these past months, such creations are a work in progress…enjoy it, let it percolate, you and the story will be better for it….Hope to see you at our next meeting.


    1. Reminds me of a poem:
      ‘Turning and turning in a widening gyre
      The novelist can’t find his story’s path
      Well, it didn’t quite go like that, and I hope my struggles to find the right path for this story don’t end up following the path described in the next line of the poem.


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