Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Challenge of Splitting a Book

When I got to the end of Wife of Freedom, I found I couldn't stop, so I wrote a sequel called Test of Freedom. I never took it beyond the first very rough draft stage. It's twice as long as the first book, and is sketchy and too short at the beginning, rambling and too long at the end. But the first part is actually pretty cleanly told, and with some fleshing out, it makes for a good story of it's own.

So I'm going to split it in two. The main plot, about Jackie Alwyn's troubles, and Mary and Lady Ashton's efforts to rescue him, is straight-forward and splits neatly with the aftermath.

The challenge is in the subplots belonging to the antagonists: Henry, who has his own search for meaning and redemption, and a new character Rocken - a brutal man trapped in a brutal situation who has nearly managed to jettison his soul. Or thinks he has, until Jackie dusts it off and hands it back to him. Which puts Rocken into a terrible crisis, which is the driving force of all the trouble in the last book.

I think I've figured out how to deal with Henry - just start his story earlier, give him time to develop as a minor subplot. This should actually work better - with a wonderful wrap up that will be great foreshadowing for the next story. But that means Henry's plotline will require the most new material.

The big question is: will the slow, rising tension of Rocken's story work when split in two? I hope it will. It has a natural breaking point right where I want to break the books apart, but I'm most worried about this. Because it's so key to the rest of the story. I guess we'll see, won't we?

So what are the goals in outlining the rewrite of this book?

June 10 - Identify the scenes that will have to be moved from second half to the first. Get them all into the same document. Create a scene list of what already exists.

June 11 - Identify the key turning points that will mark the major acts or movements in the story.

June 12-14 - Beat out the missing scenes and the underdeveloped scenes (i.e. actually do the outline.) That's four acts in three days - so I need to do about an act and a half on each day.

June 15-23 - I'll be working or travelling. No specific daily goals. I'll just post simple wordcounts on how much brainstorming and world-building I do for The Serial. (I need a better title for that.)

June 24 - Start a new Dare for Test of Freedom. 1000 words of new material a day until it's done. (How long? I may be able to guess at that on the 15th, but who knows?)


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Wow. This is a huge undertaking! But you've gotten it so well organized and seem so familiar with the order of events in the manuscript that I think it'll go really quickly.

The Daring Novelist said...

I think it sounds more ambitious than it is. I probably have 15-20 thousand words to add. (Depending on how much actually can be moved from other parts of the story.)

It is, however, something that I couldn't do without all this time off I've got right now.

Hart Johnson said...

It can be really hard, can't it? I have a trilogy and the FIRST one had a really logical ending, but between the 2nd and 3rd, it was much harder to define the optimum 'climax of book 2' (in fact it ends badly... not in quality, but in an 'I can't believe that cruel author did that to her characters' way. I think though, it would have been that much harder, had I not known from the start that I was writing it in separate books... Sounds like you need to introduce Rocken, show him being brutal, then at the end maybe reveal the WHY, then in the final book show some more but then part way in start the turn around... or something...

The Daring Novelist said...

No, I can do that with Henry, but Rocken is too critical to both books.

Jackie is a prisoner, and Rocken is an overseer. Jackie grabs Rocken by the soul the instant they meet. Rocken manages to hold it together in this book, but he is gradually and irrevocably changed. It's the climactic events in this book that crack his world apart, and create the situation in the second book.

There is nothing to change in the story, I'm just worried that the impact would be blunted if you read the books out of order.