Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

Blog / The Craft of Writing / The Psychology of Writing

One baby step forward, three giant steps sideways

So, yeah, I’ve suddenly realized certain obvious things about the later plot of the current WIP, which is good. I will call this one KERI after the main character just to help us all keep straight which WIP is which. KERI is a work under contract, though I haven’t actually signed the contract yet, but I am assured that someday the contract will appear and then I will sign it (I presume), after which I will be able to tell you all about this particular WIP in more detail.

I have about 75 pp of KERI written, plus a loose outline that might be sort of accurate, plus a good idea of the next couple of things that might happen — drawing a blank on the thing after next, though — plus a nice scene that recently occurred to me but that would require an important secondary character to step up and take the pov. Which I think makes sense, but I had planned to have only one pov character (for a change). But I sure can’t see how to get the original protagonist into this particular scene, where the secondary character is crucial. If he does become a pov character, then I’m going to need a Chapter Two where he gets to be the protagonist and I’m going to need it to happen before we get 75 pages in.

So whatever, I’ll figure it out.

All the above constitutes the baby step.

What unexpectedly took me off sideways was, I suddenly figured out how to handle basically everything about revising this very early work of mine that I wanted to eventually self-publish. By revise, I mean:

1. Remove two of the three protagonists completely, along with at least two important secondary characters (including one I really, really like).

2. Take a different secondary character and make him an actual protagonist, adding material about his earlier life.

3. Remove one major plot thread and one major worldbuilding element.

4. Smooth out the remaining plot, in the process cutting 350 pages.

5. Yes, really. This was a trilogy to begin with, if you can’t tell, and even after selecting the characters and plot threads to keep, it is almost exactly twice as long as it should be.

6. In combination with cutting, revise every single paragraph on a sentence-by-sentence level.

And at this point, you may well be asking yourself, But wouldn’t it be less work just to ditch this and write a new book from scratch?

And the answer is: Why, no. Writing a book from scratch is, in fact, a lot of work. Having a basic plot that goes straight through from front to back, and the important characters with their personal character arcs, and the essential worldbuilding all in place means that even a truly huge revision is actually a lot less work than writing a new book. The main thing is suddenly deciding you want to bother, which I guess I have.

So that’s been my weekend so far. It’s a shame to kill writerly enthusiasm when it turns on, so unless I lose interest or get stuck — and it’s hard to see what I could get stuck ON, since the whole thing has come pretty well into focus at this point — maybe I’ll just finish this right now, in one straight shot. I estimate that it will take . . . about three weeks to a month, given the ordinary interruptions of life during April — work, gardening, the need to take dogs hiking, all the standard things.

This puts me in the odd position, as we finish up the first quarter of 2014, of having three WIP that I plan to finish this year:

A. The HOUSE OF SHADOWS sequel, which is about, oh, 80% done. I stalled out on that in January and set it aside, but it should not take more than a month to finish, if that. Right now it’s taking a back seat to both the others.

B. KERI, which is more like 20% done, but is under contract (I’m assured) and therefore technically ought to have priority. I expect its deadline to be about September of this year. I’ve written books from scratch in two months before (though I prefer not to have to), and summer is a good time for me to get work done, so I don’t anticipate any problems.

C. This big revision, which I’ll call KEHERA for now (yes, again, main character’s name), which honestly even given everything . . . I have to say, I would count it as at least 85% done. Maybe 90%. I swear, I think the rest of this one will be all downhill.

I would actually like to see both the HoS sequel and KEHERA come out this year, say in September and November. (No promises, stuff could happen). KERI of course, being under contract, will come out according to the publisher’s schedule, which is to say, 2016 if I remember correctly. Speeding up the timing is one big reason to shift some of my titles to self-publication. So, September and November. Cover art, copy editing, formatting, it will all be a new universe to explore.

So, yeah, that’s why I don’t know how long it may take to get to most of the books piling up on my TBR shelves. A while. The rest of you, enjoy spring’s new releases!

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5 Comments One baby step forward, three giant steps sideways

  1. Elaine T

    Whee, more books by you to look for !

    I read aloud your description of changes to our teen who has taken up writing both original and fanfic. She said ‘are you warning me?” Me, “yep.”

  2. Cheryl L

    That is lovely news for us readers. :-)

    So you’re planning to self-publish the HoS sequel too? Can’t wait for that one!

  3. Rachel

    Thank you all! It always gives me a lift to know people are happy about a book on the way!

    I will *probably* self-publish the H of S sequel, though I will offer it to Orbit as a courtesy first. They didn’t ask for it and I didn’t mention I was writing it to my editor there. I don’t think they will be interested, so I’m guessing it will be self-published. Which is fine, since I am interested in dabbling my toe in that ocean.

    Elaine, yep, revision is a Thing.

    Maureen, right now I’m in that place where I really do want to work on my own stuff more than I want to read anything by anyone else. I always enjoy it as much as possible when I get to this place, because it doesn’t last. I’m hoping if I ride it, it will carry me right through this entire revision. Meanwhile: putting all new arrivals on the TBR pile and out of sight.

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