About that gap in posting …

24 Sep
Writing

Sometimes this is what writing feels like. (Photo courtesy of Bundesarchive)

Yes, I’m back.

I did not just stop posting. And I certainly didn’t give up on writing. I’ve been writing and editing for something like a thousand years (at least it feels that way sometimes), so I’m not about to stop now. But for about three months, I wasn’t posting, I wasn’t writing fiction, and none of my books were available.

What happened?

Let me start at the beginning.

It was brought to my attention that at least one “scene” in The Hall of the Prophetess crossed a line I did not want to cross. I was trying to show the strength of Karia’s character. Whether I succeeded or not, I went too far.

Of course, the scene did not occur in a vacuum. I needed to re-evaluate the whole of the third book of the series The Day Magic Died. And of course, that meant I needed to think through the entire series. In addition, I wanted to re-evaluate my other series as well, the Nascent Payne mysteries.

So I withdrew all my books from sale. (I guess that’s one good thing about independent publishing – I get to make decisions like that.) Then I started through the books one at a time.

Books 1 and 2, The House in the Old Wood and Karia’s Path, were pretty much the way I wanted them. Oh, I found just a couple of things like this, from Chapter 52 of The House in the Old Wood:

No matter how much padding there is, it’s not possible to sleep in the back of a moving wagon. And Karia’s parents did not have a lot of padding. (I’m not sure how much good it would have done to pad her parents.)

But after fixing literally two or three goofs like that, those two books seemed ready to be re-released.

Then I hit Book 3, The Hall of the Prophetess. Oh my. Besides the issue I mentioned earlier, I found myriad problems. I mean, the spelling, grammar and punctuation were good. But beyond that? Ugh.

However, rolling on through Book 4, The Dwarf’s Legacy, and the unreleased draft of Book 5, The White-Silver House, my discouragement turned to encouragement. I now knew why I was having such trouble completing the fifth and final book.

I really messed up in Book 3.

And I learned an important lesson:

Don’t rush.

I rushed to complete Book 3 and get it out, so I could promote the series by offering Book 1 free just before a Christmas season. It worked in the short run: I saw my greatest sales in the next couple of months.

But Book 3, I now see, is where the wheels came off. Many of the problems with Book 5 stem from decisions I rushed in Book 3. For example:

  • In the first draft of Book 3, two of the important characters, Ni’ika and Tika, were basically the same person. I rushed to differentiate them, and they shifted more toward caricature than character. That error becomes quite an issue in Book 5 (though I can’t really elaborate without spoilers – sorry!).
  • The central dialog in Book 3 takes place between Ni’ika and Karia, and in the first draft, it was too clear. It did not make sense that Ni’ika, a woman who looks down on other races, would know the language of those other races well. I rewrote her dialog … and made it an absolute chore to read. In my fourth decade as a writer and editor, I know that if readers hit something that’s hard to read, they stop. And somehow, in my rush, I forgot. It’s bad enough that this derails readers. But it also obscures some of the important things Ni’ika says in Book 3, and that can damage how readers understand Book 5. (Yeah, sorry, I can’t explain that either.)
  • My mischaracterization of those two key people in Book 3, Ni’ika and Tika, makes it difficult to create a believable relationship arc for Karia with each of them. That’s not evident in Book 3, and in my rush I missed that. But it became quite problematic by Book 5. (Slight spoiler there, but you probably missed it, so I won’t say anything.)

However, perhaps the most important mistake had little to do with characters and everything to do with the storyline. The story turns in Book 3, and it should set us on course for Book 5. But it’s ever so slightly off course. At first – and in fact, all the way through Book 4 – that wasn’t much of a problem.

But finishing a series this long is sort of like steering a ship across the ocean. A difference of one or two degrees makes a big difference where you end up. And I was in such a rush to get Book 3 out, I released it before I knew precisely where Book 5 was going.

I’ve mentioned before that I wrote the ending of the series before I completed the first book, so I’d know where I was taking you. And I’ve told you the ending changed over time. I rewrote it several times as the story twisted and turned.

Yet in my rush to get Book 3 released, I wrapped up the writing and editing before I went back to the ending. By the time I got to the actual ending in Book 5, there were some fissures in the storyline. And now I see where those cracks and gaps began: in Book 3.

So what does all of this mean?

It means I need to take Book 3 apart and put it back together again. Then I’ll need to make sure Book 4 reflects the changes in Book 3. And after that, I can work through the fifth and final book.

That’s going to take some time. But in the end, the series will be far better because of it.

5 Responses to “About that gap in posting …”

  1. Kathy March 10, 2017 at 7:27 am #

    When can we read books 3,4 and 5? I loved the first two but am so disappointed that I can’t continue. Please make the rest of you books available so I can know what happens!

    • ianfallis March 10, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

      Glad to hear you loved “The House in the Old Wood” and “Karia’s Path.” And I’m sorry I’ve disappointed you. So today I went to publish the revised Book 3, “The Hall of the Prophetess” … and ran into a technical issue. I will work to resolve that this weekend, and plan to have good news for you Monday, if not earlier.

      • Kathy March 11, 2017 at 2:17 am #

        Thank you! Looking forward to continuing the series and hopefully getting to read the rest of the books!

      • Kathy March 12, 2017 at 9:41 am #

        Hi! Read the Hall of the Prophetess and left an Amazon review :). When can we read book 4 and 5? What a great series!

  2. ianfallis March 13, 2017 at 8:06 am #

    Wow, that was fast! Give me a week or so to work out the details on the paperback editions of Books 3 and 4, and then I ought to be able to work on making the Kindle version of Book 4 available. THEN I want to do one final read-through of Book 5 …

    Thank you so much for your kind and enthusiastic words. Now go get your friends hooked on the series, OK? 🙂

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