I actually surprised myself this weekend by pulling out Shiva’s Bow and finishing a solid first draft (as opposed to the messy zero I wrote last year) for my beta. There are still a number of things wrong with it but I’ve reached the point where I have to talk it out before I go in and fix it, both to confirm what I already know and to come at it from angles I haven’t thought of.
What surprised me most of all was that of the new characters in this book, there was one who, in the zero draft, just sort of disappeared and did nothing, and he had no function whatsoever. So I was fully planning to delete him. Just…excise him entirely from the manuscript. The books in this series are fairly hefty to begin with and a lot goes on in them, and anyone not pulling their weight gets fired.
I hit his first scene with plans to remove him when something stopped me. Just a little whisper that came to the back of my mind and said, “Hold on a second. Just see how this plays out.” I grudgingly listened (if I didn’t, it would’ve driven me nuts). By the time I got 3/4 through the book, it suddenly hit me why he was REALLY there. And I felt bloody stupid for not realizing it sooner. After I talk it out with the beta–what I think I need to do with him–I’ll go back and anyone reading the book in the future will have no idea that it wasn’t planned that way all along.
All that is to say that books, at least for me, come pre-existing and writing is a form of excavating. It’s better now than years ago–generally I know the shape of the thing and where I have to carve first, which only experience can bring–but there are always surprises as I go and I wouldn’t say it ever gets easier.
One of the surprises with this series was that I wrote Shiva’s Bow thinking it was the third book only to realize it’s the fourth, so now I have to go back and fill in another book: Zheng’s Tomb, wherein our intrepid heroine ends up in the boobytrapped tomb of Qin Shi Huang, crossing a lake of mercury and battling his terracotta army (which of course are brought to life, because Reasons. Badass reasons).
I can’t wait.
Anyway, it’s Daylight Saving Time now in my neck of the woods and thank gods I don’t have any early mornings this week as I am right confused. It’s just me and work, and everything else is scheduled to go this week, so I don’t have to brain much.
Two points of interest for readers this week:
- Author October Weeks has invited me to celebrate the release of her urban fantasy novel, The Damned, over on Facebook. I’ll be there from around 7:30 – 8 EST on Thursday, March 12, giving away a book or two and chatting. Please consider attending if you’re on FB and giving October some support.
- Rebellion will be released on Friday, for real and for true. This is the first time I’ve revisited the River Wolfe world with new content in several years so I’m hoping people check it out and enjoy it. Patrons can currently download the novella free. It’ll be for sale here and on Payhip on Friday, and then next week you can read it on my blog free over a period of four days.
Rebellion is another example of a book surprising me–there were a few details about the night River was changed into a human that I had no idea about until the end of the novella. It certainly brings a new perspective to the events of River and I hope you dig it. (It also sets up where the River-ten-years-later short story will go, which I’m writing after Wolfe is re-released, and y’all are gonna kick me for that one, so sorry in advance.)
Well, back to work for me. I hope to see you on Facebook this Thursday and then back here for Rebellion‘s release on Friday!