How Now Folks,
I’m nearing the end of the second draft for book 2, Angels of Perdition. Just adding in some elements to the middle section that I missed on the original run through. We’re shooting to begin the first major editorial pass by the end of the month. In those moments where I’m staring at a blank page trying to corral my thoughts, I’ve notice something; The act of creation for the second book is different from the first. I don’t mean procedures and methods; I mean in terms of finding its essence.
See, I actually began writing Chaos of Souls back in 2014. (If you want to get technical, I began writing it in 1983. It’s taken me this long to get it right). This version started in 2014, and at that time, I was just writing for the hell of it. I had this story I tinkered with for decades, and I wanted to see how it ended. My wife grew to love it, and so I was pretty much writing it for the two of us to enjoy; really just creating the book we always wanted to read. I had another manuscript, of a later point in the time line for the series, and I wanted to combine the two, catch them up, if you will. So, on the weekends, I hung out in the backyard and just kept on writing, trying to get my characters to that later point. All in all, I had a manuscript that was 1,154 pages.
Then, near the end of 2016, Dorothy and I were talking about the rise of independent authors and publishing ebooks online, and we decided to give it a go. The problem was, this 1,154-page beast was too big, even for a fantasy book, and there was a great deal that I wanted to expand upon. So, after looking at the layout of the story, we decided to break that massive manuscript into three parts. The first 550 pages were reworked and expanded into The Gates of Golorath, which now has 639 pages. The next section, which is currently becoming Angels of Perdition, was only at 199 pages. The final section is about 409 pages. I had a ton of material for books 1 & 3, but not all that much for book 2. Most of this book still needed a first draft, and writing it turned into me chasing the story for a good part. Don’t worry, I found it.
Now here’s the thing: refining part 1 and turning it into its own book helped redefine the entire Chaos of Souls story. More than that, it showed us how things actually worked within a book. We understood how to craft characters that people other than us cared about, and how to unify events so the plot makes sense. (There is, I discovered, a huge difference between writing for yourself, and writing for others). More than that, we learned how to work together as a team to really bang out some great content.
But, I of course, wanted to try something different. Even this working knowledge of how Dorothy and I work as a team, I had something up my sleeve for the end of Angels, and I wanted it be a surprise for my wife. So, I kept quiet about what I was working on. Have you ever watched a movie and thought to yourself, “Hey, that’s stupid,” or “That’s out of character,” “That doesn’t make sense with the plot,” “The writers forgot about X or Y from the beginning”? I didn’t have those problems in Gates, because I have Dorothy to work with (as well as an awesome editor). She catches all the continuity and plotting errors. When she read the first draft of Angels, she found all those errors that I wouldn’t have written in had I just kept her in the loop.
As to the surprise, oh, hell yeah, she was surprised. It was cool too, because I was sitting in the room when she read it, so I got to see the full reaction. But, it cost me a lot of revision work to fix my mistakes.
Ok. Lesson learned. Keep the muse in the loop.
Don’t worry. Angels of Perdition is not leaving our hands until it is as perfect as we can make it. She caught all of my mistakes and miscues, and they have all been fixed. Relax. We’re obsessive about stuff like this. When we have a job to do, we give it our all. That’s who we are. I’m not saying that we’re as fastidious as a Mala’kar… ok, who am I kidding.
Yeah, we’re on that level of neurosis.