So I’m about 45,000 words into The Ridge, the follow-up to Holland Bay. And I scrap the draft.
Wow! Disaster, right?
Not really. Those who knew me in the Before Time, in the Long, Long Ago, also know I started Holland Bay in 2007. It wasn’t really intended to be a novel. Just some random scenes I wrote and shared with a friend who was undergoing some serious surgery. I put it aside, found myself writing a 38-page history of the city of Monticello (took a while to arrive at that name), and came back to see where this thing went. It had a dozen plot threads because every new character had to have his or her voice, and ended up at 105,000 words.
Then I quit writing.
Then I started up again. Between attempted and aborted projects, I took Holland Bay and sent it back across the keyboard a couple of times. By the time I had it formally edited (swapping my manuscript for a friend’s WIP he’d been struggling with for a couple of years), the novel had undergone two complete rewrites. After an agent requested an additional rewrite, one I’m very pleased with despite the deal not working out, the 105,000 meandering mess had become a lean 74,000 words. That’s what got a major publisher’s attention, and that’s what’s making rounds now.
So losing The Ridge this soon? Not a big deal. I have two other original projects on my plate for this year. I also have a science fiction novel in dire need of expansion. With 10,000 new words writing as TS Hottle as of this morning, this previously “finished” novel is becoming my original words for the day until further notice. So where’s that leave The Ridge?
Well, I need to do some research. And I need to whittle down the POVs to four – A victim, an imperious deputy police chief, an Irish criminal and his bizarre partner, and Jessica Branson, the main police character of Holland Bay. As happened with the original book, various side characters have decided to make their voices heard. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s a pain for the readers to follow. I still look nervously at the modified scifi outline I’m working on.
The other thing is that this series takes one of its inspirations from The Wire (along with the 87th Precinct series and some early Ken Bruen thrown in for good measure.) The Wire is one of the first binge-worthy shows on television. It occurred to me that future installments of this series should be written in a similar vein. So I am planning ten “episodes” of four chapters each, maybe a longer setup and conclusion. It should help readers focus on the POV characters, give them logical stopping points, and even give a publisher the option serializing it into ebook novellas similar to what Tor did with John Scalzi’s work.
It’s not a bad thing to start over. I like the over all story. I just realized that, with all going on in my life, I can’t afford to pants it anymore.
Unless it’s a short story.
More on that later.