Mark Terry

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

If I'm not crazy...

August 30, 2006
...I will be soon.

I completed, almost, the rewrite of ANGELS FALLING yesterday. I'll be going over it again, reading it out loud, looking for some miscellaneous things like too much backstory, repetitive words, etc. I also think I want to get into a couple of the characters' heads a bit more. Oh, and although the length is okay, I'm open to the notion of an additional 5000 words, but we'll see. Can I do that by adding a few scenes or chapters, or will I end up padding things?

Which is not really the point of today's entry. The point is, when I wrote the first version, I had a certain ending. I wasn't 100% sure I wanted it to end that way, so when I put the manuscript aside for a few months, I specifically told myself to think about it, hoping my subconscious would do some work on the question while I went about my life.

So yesterday I changed the ending. Printed it out. Stared at it, then went back to the computer and changed it back. Then I had the two printouts there on my desk and I stared at them, then I shook my head and went upstairs to make lunch.

When I got back to the office I threw out the older version and made the changes for the newest ending, then I wrote the epilogue and called it done.

I have more doubts about this project than usual. The reasons for that are I think because I'm getting published, my standards have gone up. The first book in the series, THE DEVIL'S PITCHFORK, will be out shortly. I'm quite pleased with it. The second book in the series, THE SERPENT'S KISS, will be out in the fall of 2007, and I'm signficantly more pleased about SERPENT. My agent, who often compliments the author, but doesn't necessarily always compliment the author's work (it's complicated), told me she thought THE SERPENT'S KISS was almost perfect. I happen to agree, especially with the "almost" part. I think it's significantly better than THE DEVIL'S PITCHFORK, which is what I was aiming at.

Which may be my problem with ANGELS FALLING. I want it to be better than THE SERPENT'S KISS. And that's hard. KISS damn near wrote itself. The novel's structure solved so many problems in terms of rising action and conflict that it was a breeze to write and everything works. It's NOT perfect. No book is, but I'm very, very pleased with KISS.

ANGELS FALLING is another issue. It's good. It might even be very good. As it is as of today, if readers like the first two they'll like this one. It does what I think a Derek Stillwater novel should do. It's fast-paced, action-filled and entertaining.

But I want it to be better. So back I go for at least one more rewrite while I've still got time.

Mark Terry


Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

I'll bet Angels Falling seems better in a couple of months.

I always feel that each book should be better than the previous one. But that's hard to achieve and particuarly so if you're writing a series. Or at least, when writing a series, it becomes hard to judge the relative merits of the books. Each book builds on the previous ones. Or does it merely copy them?

A series needs some continuity, some sameness between the books else it wouldn't be a series. For instance, you can't create a brand new protagonist for each book.

But the lack of total originality makes suceeding books feel less than brilliant compared to earlier ones. I have a hard time saying that a sixth book about a character, even if, say, new things are revealed about the chracter, can be as good as a book where a new character is created.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Honest to God, Eric, what a great subject for a post--or a book.

I've always felt I wanted to write a series. I am writing a series. Many of my failed novels and almost-published manuscripts were intended to be series. Some were series.

And although I love reading series and love writing them, I'm increasingly appreciating the advantages of writing stand-alones and the sort of fresh creativity it can feel like. Part of the joy of novelizing I think is discovering new characters, and that's different than visiting old favorites.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Ron Estrada said...

Whenever I think I've written something nearly perfect, I hand it to my wife, who is quick to disagree.

And, yes, you are living in an alternate universe. Oxford supplies me with plenty of material.

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