Unbraiding the Narrative

Because I really have nothing to say about today’s Fantasy Review Barn Tough Traveling episode, I figured I should talk about what I’ve been working on.  After all, I haven’t done much content recently.

The reason is that I’ve started with the rewrites for Book 3, The Living Throne, and they’ve been taking up almost all of my head-space.  And I thought writing the damn book was difficult!  But no, the editing process on this thing will probably kill me, because in order to fit it into the CreateSpace parameters for a printed work, I need to cut a sixth of the text.

I am DOOMED.

With that said, let’s get into the details.

It should be no surprise to anyone who’s been reading that Book 3 will be large.  I spent Book 1 following Cob pretty faithfully, except when we split off to follow Darilan through some of the second half.  Book 2 expanded the plotlines to include Sarovy and Geraad, both of whom continue on to Book 3.

In Book 3, we get….hold on, let me count.  Twenty-one points of view, unless I missed some…  Jeez.  Granted, most of them aren’t major, and many of them trade back-and-forth in a short period of time — due to fight scenes or whatnot — before disappearing into the background.  But still: twenty-one voices.

The first quarter of the book is colorized by thread below, with page-count and chronology:

threadsAs you can see, there are three chapter-level threads: Cob’s, Sarovy’s and Geraad’s.  It’s this way throughout almost all of the book, with one of those three characters ‘heading’ the chapter and the occasional other person on their strand popping in to provide a POV section (like the orange and yellow smudges for Weshker and Dasira).  As we go along, more and more of those others jump in to add their two cents, because though those three men are the ‘leaders’ on their thread, they’re not necessarily the most important characters at any given time.

What can I say, it’s an ensemble cast.

But as you can see, there’s a lot of back-and-forth between threads, which makes editing the book front-to-back a bit difficult.  I had some trouble writing it because I’d go from a Cob chapter to a Sarovy then to a Geraad and maybe another Sarovy before getting back to Cob, and four days would have passed in text but a month would have passed in real life and I’d have lost a lot of the Cob-perspective I’d previously had.  So what I’m doing on this rewrite is unbraiding the three strands and tackling them one at a time.

I should mention at this point that the finished digital document is 648 pages, 35 chapters, 215 sections.  Paginated to the same style that the CreateSpace version of Book 2 was, and it becomes 963 pages — a whopper.  Unfortunately, as mentioned, CreateSpace has its limits; the largest book it will physically print is 800 pages, and I’ve yet to add in any maps or glossaries.  So that’s at least 163 pages out of the physically paginated document, or about 111 out of the digital 648-page document.  Like I said, a good sixth of the book.

Sarovy’s thread, which is the one I’ve started with, currently stands at 154 pages in the digital document.  Slightly less than a quarter of the book.  I want to keep the page count about the same because in previous books I had some complaints that there wasn’t enough of him — and I agree because I like him a lot.  His story is important and cut thin enough to begin with, so my goal in rewriting his thread is to make everything internally consistent and front-load some actions so that I can fit more of his — and Blaze Company’s — story into the same amount of text.  Ideally his thread will end up as a third of the text, rather than a quarter.

Next will be Geraad’s thread.  It’s about the same size, but he’s our eye on the ‘villain’ side of the story (well…technically I suppose Blaze Company are villains too, since they work for the Empire…), so he does a lot of witnessing wicked shenanigans — not so much doing things on his own.  His page-count can definitely stand to be trimmed/condensed, because I realized while writing it that I had a few scenes that nearly repeated themselves.  So either I’ll merge some of those or transform a few into something else — answer some extra questions, maybe drop some more of Halci’s metaphysics in there…  Geraad’s thread gets increasingly invaded by other POV characters though, so I’ll need to do some wrangling of those too.  Ideally I can keep his percentage at a quarter of the book even as the page count shrinks, because there’s enough going on that I don’t want to skimp.

And then we get to Cob’s half.  300+ pages of Cob Cob Cob.  Okay, other people too (mostly Dasira) but lots of Cob.  Oh Cob.  There’s plenty going on with him and his friends, I grant you that, but I’ve noticed that my ‘walking and talking’ chapters are almost twice as large as my ‘plot and combat’ chapters so I really have to trim them down.  I’m expecting to cut the vast majority of pages from Cob and crew as I trim their usual marinating-in-emotions schtick to something less strangle-worthy.

Teenagers.

To use a gross analogy, I think of editing a bit like that MythBusters episode where they tested whether you could polish a turd.  They found that you could! — for a certain consistency of turd, and if you took the time and figured out the right method and dedicated yourself to the craft.  (So obviously it was the Hyneman who managed it, not the Savage.)  In writing, you eat up all your various influences, digest them into ideas, crap out a rough draft, then spend your time polishing that piking turd until you either give up or you get it to a point that no one can tell what it used to be — except you.  Then you either hide your dirty hands behind your back and pretend you’re some kind of goose who lays gold eggs — or you fess up to it.

This is my confession.  This work stinks!  It makes my brain ache!  I don’t know why I do it to myself!  Twenty-one points of view, me?!  What the pike was I thinking?  And there are three more books after this?!?!

But at the end, when that polished bit of work is sitting on its pedestal and I can wash my hands and just admire it….  It’s not so bad.

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About H. Anthe Davis

Worldbuilder. Self-published writer.
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4 Responses to Unbraiding the Narrative

  1. megera says:

    this is what websites of authors are for – unpublished gems! ‘See our webpage for edited content!’

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