Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Epic Siren

I just finished Jacqueline Carey's Naamah's Kiss and I find myself in the same mental state that every one of her books leaves me in: I want to stop all work on my current novels and return to the first novel I wrote, Areia—the monstrous epic fantasy of some 1,300 pages.

I know how I want to rework the story. I know how I want to edit down, what scenes I want to highlight. I know how I want the ending to go. I'm toying with a story-changing element that would affect the background and secondary characters. I feel like, given distance from the story, I actually know the main character better (I've spent a lot of my time with her in my head despite the two years since I've sat down and worked on the novel). The only problem is this: I'm not sure if it would be quicker to rewrite the book or to edit it—there are that many changes needed.

I think editing it would work best. Paring it down to basically an outline of ideas, scenes, paragraphs, character sketches, that I would then work into the new story. Which is all well and good, but it took me two years to write and edit Madison, a 320 page novel. It's still not polished.

Granted, not all that time was working exclusively on Madison. Three months were taken up writing Madison 2, and two months were taken up working on Areia. I had the idea after I finished NaNo for the first time that I would be refreshed and return to Areia with new eyes, able to find flaws I hadn't seen on my first read through. I was right. I found lots of flaws. In those two months, I got through about 50 pages of text. That's it.

I'd never edited an entire novel before. I'd written Areia and I'd written Madison, but I hadn't realized that writing a novel is about 30% of the work and 30% (or less) of the total time it takes me to complete a project. (I'm really, really hoping that those percentages increase drastically with more practice!) So I had no idea that taking 1,300 pages and cutting it down to about 600 or less and making it buying-me perfect was going to take so, so long.

I have an inkling of an idea now. It still doesn't make me not want to work on the book. But I'm aware enough to know that I need to finish Sasha first, and I need to finish Madison before that, and I need to have my book(s) in the query phase way before I work on Areia. Areia's a great story. It has lots of potential, and I know it will make it to shelves some day, but it's going to have to wait its turn.

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