I’m not sure where to start with this post. Or maybe I do, and I don’t think I have the energy for it. See, I’d have to go all the way back to getting assigned my editor for the original version of THE UNREMEMBERED in like 2010. I’d have to talk about how badly that all went. I’d have to get deep in the weeds about how I’m still feeling the repercussions of decisions that editor made all that time ago. And frankly, I don’t want to relive it. It depresses me. It makes me angry. And it’s Christmastime, so who needs those kinds of emotions floating around.
So . . .
Let me start further down the road: book two, TRIAL OF INTENTIONS. The original draft of that book was 500K. This was unwise of me, primarily because I’m not able to write full time. Meaning, it lengthened the time between books. But see, my editor at the time–the guy mentioned above–sat on that manuscript for over a year without looking at it once I’d turned it in. And you know what’s sad? That’s the least of his sins with regard to my career. And his.
To be more accurate, the book he got was about 439K. I’d cut a bunch before sending it to him. When I finally got assigned a new editor–and my first editor got fired–my new editor read the book, and actually asked me to add some things. That version of the book wound up at 445K.
Then–as I’m told, since I wasn’t there–Tom Doherty comes into my editor’s office one day and asks how book two is coming along. She relates, among other things, the length. Tom asks her to cut it in half.
Now, rewind a bit. I’d asked my first editor when I submitted the behemoth: “Help me look at how I can divide this. I think it’s too long for a single volume.” That guy, having never read the book, said he didn’t see a way. Nice.
My new editor wondered if we could do something as simple as finding a natural break point. Something cliff-hanger-y. I rejected this. My logic at the time was that I don’t have the name or audience to suffer such an abrupt ending. Honestly, I’m not sure readers–however adoring of their favorite writer–ever like such endings. Even in a series.
So, I hunkered down for a week and really tore into the book, looking for a way to take roughly half the novel and reshape it into it’s own story. That required more than just selecting a chapter break and calling it good. No. I had to re-architect a metric ton o’stuff. I had to jettison a few things. I had to write a bunch of new stuff. I sent that proposal in to my editor. She loved it. On I went to rewrite book two, using roughly the first half of the original.
That rewrite wound up at 258K, and that’s what we published. I feel good about it. I got some nice quotes for the book from writers like Brandon Sanderson, Robin Hobb, Tracy Hickman, and L.E. Modesitt. And some fantastic reviews, to boot.
And now we get to the heart of it.
See, the rewrite of book two, well, it rendered immaterial most of the second half of that original 445K novel. But I have to rewind again.
Over the past year or so, I’ve lost two family members to death. To be honest, this affected my writing time. What that means is that as I’ve just recently come hard at book three, I’ve realized how much new stuff I needed to create–to tie into all the new stuff in book two. I’m not complaining. This is quite possibly my favorite part of the writing process: outlining. See, this is where I get to do so much worldbuilding, and character development, and plotting, and … well, everything. It’s a critical part of the writing process for me. And I love it!
And that’s the substance of this post. Today I finished a rather comprehensive outline for book three. I do this in Excel, of all things. But it works for me. And now I have a very solid blueprint for writing the next volume in the Vault of Heaven series. And … it wasn’t easy. Fun, but not easy. And some of the “not easy” part hearkens back to that unfortunate first editor/writer pairing. So much of this would have been easier and faster or avoidable if . . . well, I’ll just leave it there.
All of that said, some of the story creation that I’ve done over the last month or so is–in my own humble opinion–the best I’ve ever done. I don’t believe in fate the way many do, but if I did, this is where I’d be saying that the book I’m about to write wouldn’t be what it will be (which I think will be pretty awesome) without all the travails that have gone before. I’ll try to embrace a bit of that. Good karma.
Some of you will have heard that my idea for the series was to start readers in familiar epic fantasy territory, then evolve things to someplace new. Someplace my own. That crank starts to turn in the last half of the AUTHOR’S DEFINITIVE EDITION of THE UNREMEMBERED, gets several hard revolutions in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, and goes on complete steroids in BOOK THREE. This was always the plan. And I can’t wait to write this third volume.
I do have some bits from the second half of the original book two that I can harvest. So that’s good.
And can I share a secret with y’all? I’m actually a bit afraid that the pace is too fast in book three. That there’s also too much action. You know, battle-y thingys. I’m not being coy. But my beta-readers will catch it if everything is whizzing by too fast.
I have, though, left myself plenty of room for creation as I go. And actually, in some ways, the outline gives me a kind of freedom I completely dig. It’s like a coloring book. I know the shape of the thing now. And I will actively color outside the lines when I see the right opportunities. They always come. I welcome them. But now I have a really good path ahead, and I can tear into the line-by-line writing portion of book three.
Of course, I’ve also taken a few deliberate byways on the road to book three. Things like the song and video I did for Patrick Rothfuss and his cool Worldbuilders charity. Posted here for your enjoyment. I do a send up of the old writerly saw: “Kill your darlings.” And I do it to the music of Bohemian Rhapsody, with original lyrics penned in homage to a couple of my literary heroes: George R.R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson.
Speaking of which, the Sanderson Quote I mentioned above for Trial of Intentions just came in. Brandon read the book quite recently. I was floored. And grateful. Can’t wait to see the paperback of Trial of Intentions with Brandon’s quote on the cover.
Anyway, I digress.
Book three! Here I come!
And for y’all’s, hang on to your boots. It’s going to be quite a ride.
Your Rock Lord,