About writing

Come Write a Book with Me

Part 1a: Fixing Book 1

Technically, I shouldn’t be writing this book you’re going to write with me. Oh, not because one of my other series is crying out for the next book. Be that as it may, the prequel in this series wasn’t supposed to have a sequel.

There was never supposed to be a series.

See, when I wrote A Drummer in Red (DIR), I was annoyed about the few books available to middle and high school students about the Revolutionary War. I knew of only two. They both took place in the northeast of the colonies, and I thought they were depressing. So I decided to balance them out with a story that took place in the south and was uplifting.

That was it. One book and I was done.

Well, this and that happened and it was a number of years before I got DIR into the hands of a publisher. She liked it but… that dreaded word. Of course, I thought she would say I had to cut it down, take out a few scenes, the usual sort of thing. But No. She wanted me to add 15,000 words. Well, it was only 51,000 words to begin with, so that was quite an addition. I decided not to sign the contract until I was sure I could do it.

Anyway, number one, I couldn’t just fluff it up. If there were to be 30% more words, I’d have to introduce some new things that hadn’t been in the first book. Maybe you’ve seen the movie ‘Amadeus,’ about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In it you discover that the whole thing – concerto or symphony or opera, or whatever – is in his head. He struggles to get it all down as it’s rushing out of his cerebellum into his pencil. Usually in one sitting. Then it’s finished. Every note exactly where it should be. No fewer or more notes than it should have. No edits. No revisions.

Yeah, I noticed that I wasn’t Mozart. But any novel worth its salt holds together and needs all the words it has and no more. So this would be a trick. In order to make it work, I’d have to add at least one new character. And maybe I’d have to beef up (not fluff up) another. How and where could I do that?

I read it. And I read it again. And I figured out where I could insidiously drop in a new character, beef up an existing one, and give my main character a really bad time. Which, of course, is what you want to do to your main character. Next time, we’ll talk about the drop spot.

By the way, the photo above is not me. It’s that Mozart fellow who could do it right the first time every time. If you’re like that, please don’t tell me.

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