Bonus blog post!
I’ve been thinking a lot about my first novel lately. (I love that I can say first. Happily, none of the following applies to my second novel.) I started reading it back in December, and some of those early chapters are… well… they’re not good.
Readers, between you and me, some of it is just plain bad. I was still finding my feet and my voice, and failing to find some other metaphorical-anatomical parts I shan’t mention.
Other parts of it are pretty good, though.
Still, it needs more than a polish. It needs a new engine, a new chassis, and to be completely ripped apart and put back together with new, shiny paint on the outside… and unfortunately the paint-and-polish part comes last.
So what am I going to do?
As tempted as I am to just chuck the whole 215,000 words into the trash —it would be a write-off, after all, since that’s almost a quarter of my million bad words—and start fresh with the story, I’m not actually going to pitch the whole thing. I need to read all of it, to see what I did well in addition to what I did poorly. Some of it could probably go into the new version of the book.
But here’s the big thing: I’m going to break it into a trilogy.
Yes, I’m doing that which I said I never would. It’s a big story, more than I really should have tried to handle for my first book, but no new writer ever listens to that advice. Each character’s plot needs more development, and there’s no way I could do that in a single novel.
Still, it’s going to be a secondary project. Right now my focus is on Shaken. I need to work on a snazzy second draft, get it to some beta readers, and begin the Great Agent Hunt. Mitzy’s a strong character, I’m told the voice is good and funny. With some polish, I think Shaken could do well.
Ever ditched a big project? Did it bum you out, or give you the same weird feeling of empowerment that I have right now?
It would physically hurt me to throw something away like that… and I haven’t even completed my first novel yet! I don’t even throw away my old short stories (even though, my desktop and a few unmentionable anonymous readers know, they really should be tossed in a river tied to a rock). Most of my older stuff merely takes up space on my desktop – lording over all other things with the fact that it’s ‘been here longer’ – or crumpled up in the bottom of my drawer collecting both dust and rejected ideas.
Mostly I save my older stuff in hopes that I mesh the ideas with other ideas later on in my writing career. I could never throw something away. Plus, in college, I was taught to not burn older works – or if you did burn them, have a saved copy “somewhere” – because, at the very least, if you never used them ever again, you could still just look back and see how far you’ve come as a writer… I’ve always thought that was a good point.