Friday, November 2, 2018

Finally, finally, FINALLY: a fix to "Faerylander."

I do believe that I have finally, finally, finally figured out how to "fix" "Faerylander."

This book is some ways my magnum opus. I've written four books in the series, and outlined a fifth book. It's a fully developed world, with characters I like.

But it was the first book I wrote coming back to writing full time. The first draft was weak in all the ways beginning books are--and I compounded the problem by forcing an ending because my main goal at the time to freaking finish. I was pretty sure, after all the false starts I'd had over the years, that if I didn't manage to finish my first big effort, I might not continued writing at all. 

I handed the first draft over to a couple of friends, who were lukewarm in response, including the comment, "All the characters sound like you." Ouch.

Anyway, I went back to this book again and again, until I have 30 versions in my computer--and those are only the versions I kept.

I rewrote the first book in the series so much that I finally split the book in two, using most of the new material for the second book.

Which still left me with the weaker writing in the first book.

I did improve the book, but there were structural problems I just couldn't seem to overcome. Frankly, even this newest draft has some structural problems, but--I do believe I've figured out a new way to tell it that will make the problems less noticeable.

A while back, I figured out that to really make the book work, as well as the other books stronger, and which would really set up a good ongoing series, I needed to have the narrator be the main character's sidekick, a sort of Watson to Holmes.

It seemed impossible. Might as well write a new book.

But the other night, I started asking myself how I could do that. And I was still coming up with ideas at four o'clock in the morning. I woke up the next day and dove in and didn't look up until late that night. I'd transformed the first 40 pages.

It finally feels like the book it should be.


I had to work yesterday, so the momentum was broken, but I'm going back to it today. I'm extracting a strong chapter out of the second book and using it, because I'm pulling out all stops to make this first book work. (I'm not worried about the second book, which has a basic workable structure and more mature writing. I can fill in the part I took out.)

I may still run into some roadblocks. There is a large chunk about halfway through that doesn't nestle comfortably in the flow, but every trick I've tried to break it up or position it somewhere else has only made things more complicated, so the hell with it; I'm just plunking it down there.

Not a perfect book--it was never going to be a perfect book--but a nice readable story, given a little leeway by the reader. Heh.

I'm not sure why I didn't just give up on this book, but there are parts of it I love and I just can't quit it.


Dave Cline said...

Just the way you write about writing... It sounds like you're an author in command. Not some wil-o-the-wisp writer eeking out their third effort. You orchestrate your work. That sounds like a master to me. On could imagine John Williams chopping and moving and shuffling parts of his concertos and magnum-opi to such extent. I think you are right on the cusp of something momentous.

Duncan McGeary said...

That's nice of you to say, Dave, but I think it's more that I'm stubborn.

I'm going to close down the bidding with this draft. It's the one I'm going with, no matter what.

I always feel like a lot of my books need more detail; this book has so much detail I'm afraid I'm overwhelming it.

Plus, it's very hard for me to see it anymore. I think there is the danger of overwriting when you do this many versions, so I'm trying to lighten that up.

My first chapter is an encounter by the main character with Edgar Allen Poe. It's been fine-tuned so much that it feels set in stone at this point. That kind of thing.

The new framing device I hope is opening it up a little more, making it more reader friendly.

It's certainly not the way I'd write a book now. There is no violent action until about 50 pages in, for instance, which is a long time to wait in a genre book. I'm hoping all the mixture of historical and fantasy will pull the reader along.

This is in a way a book for me. I have no idea if it will work for anyone else.