I used to visit a secondhand bookstore in Columbia called Ed’s Editions. High class joint. Shelves of first edition hardbacks and spinner racks of crumbling paperbacks, lovingly sealed in plastic bags. Old books and new. Treasure everywhere you looked. I have no idea why I thought of that today. Anyway, week sixteen.
Last week, I finished the first draft of the Novel-With-No-Name. I was nearly 10k over the word limit, but that will likely get pared down during the first round of edits. Or increased. Either is possible. I’m not particularly satisfied with it, for a number of reasons, but it’s done and that’s the important thing. The first draft is always the hardest.
Case in point: The Sea Leopard. 90k and still not done. Not even to the midpoint, really, which tells me a few things. Most notably, that what I thought was one story is actually two. Revisiting the draft in progress after a month of working on other things has been a bit of an eye opener. I’m trying to do too much in this book, I think. Too many plot threads, too many characters. So, this week is all about separating the two books, seeing what I’m left with, and rebuilding from there. After excising the extraneous material, I figure I’ll be left with about 65-70K, which is roughly two thirds of the book.
On the subject of revisions, I’m also working on the edits for the firs Novel-With-No-Name from back in February/March. And when I say revisions, I mean everything I did was wrong and I really shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near this particular intellectual property. So that too is getting the ol’ slash and burn treatment, as I hack away at the draft to find the nugget of acceptable narrative within.
The main problem with the draft is one of tone, which isn’t hard to fix, but has ramifications in regards to intent and pacing. Mechanically easy, but stylistically difficult. A few changes here and there, and the book becomes a very different sort of thing. This hasn’t shown up so much in smaller projects, but with this one the stylistic clash is very evident, and very frustrating, both for the editors and myself.
My takeaway from this is that my particular style is not necessarily a good fit for certain projects. That’s going to have to factor into my decisions about what to work on in the future. I used to think I had a fairly invisible technique, but that’s obviously not the case. Live and learn.
On a happier note, I’ve also started “The Hound’s Daughter”, a new Royal Occultist short story. I’m about 2000 words in, and we’ve got a haunting which isn’t, paw prints in the garden and a mysterious phone call. Astute readers can probably guess what it’s about from the title, but if not, I suggest you track down and read the stories “Hochmuller’s Hound” and “The Return of the Hound” to catch up.
And that’s it for this week.