What if the mythical Vampire of horror novels was a genetic offshoot of humanity just as the Neanderthal…only much more successful on the survival scale?
Such is the premise of a series of novels I began writing in the mid 2000s. (The mid Double Aughts? Has anyone figured out what to call that decade? And what are we in now — the Terrible Teens? Ah, I digress.) I slogged through two and a half novels’ worth of material before stalling. Over the next few years I entertained myself with other half-written projects to no avail, occasionally returning to the Sanguire novels to scratch my head. It needed a jump start, and I was fresh out of cables.
Let me break down the original manuscripts for you:
* Book 1 – A homeless teenager discovers that her feelings of alienation aren’t the run-of-the-mill emotions suffered by teenagers the world over. During the process of accepting this someone attempts to murder her for unknown reasons.
* Book 2 – Now Sanguire, she must come to terms with a complex society that she never knew existed. (Think of your worst coming out story, set it in another country where you don’t understand the culture, and stir… yeeks!) To muddle things farther, there’s a prophecy about her that sets her above everyone else. Need I mention that a second hit is put out on her, and she must deal with an assassin?
* Book 3 – Her power and support bases culminate here. Another monster confrontation with someone who has plotted centuries to kill her is in the works. Someone makes a public attempt to kill her, leading her to discover…
…Which is where I fade to black. I’d already had two murder attempts, now a third? Talk about overkill! (Pun intended.) I distracted myself with Star Trek RPGs and a couple of novels that I didn’t finish before making another solid attempt. After rereading the material, I realized a number of things:
1. There’s too much happening in Book 1. She’s going through serious fundamental changes, someone’s trying to kill her, and two people from another person’s past are confusing her. In blunt terms, she can’t get her shit together if she can’t focus on the here and now.
2. In order to change the above, I need to remove the characters from the past, and bring in one that had been a red herring in Book 2.
3. Which meant I had to find a different red herring for Book 2…providing it remained Book 2. Crap. I’ll get in to that later.
I rewrote the first book, changing the location from Portland to Seattle as an added bonus, but it didn’t sit right. Without the characters from the past and the first murder attempt there wasn’t a lot of … oomph to it, no real character growth. Sure, she’s learning that she’s not who she thought she was, and going through some wild hallucinations in the process, but there’s no threat level. Without a threat, there’s no serious angst or tension build-up. Who would read this limp dishtowel of a book?
Again I put it aside, this time adding World of Warcraft to my repertoire. I couldn’t dredge up interest in much of anything else. I had become obsessed with this project, and couldn’t seem to complete any others. ARGH!
During many creative avoidance techniques (foremost, the StumbleUpon addon for my browser,) I found a photo of Simone Simons from the Dutch Gothic metal band, Epica. At the same time, I had been working through Holly Lisle’s Create a Culture workbook in the hopes that a lot of Sanguire world building would boost my creativity. The two combined did the job!
* Book 1 (The Strange Path) – Still set in Seattle, the main character runs into a pack of Sanguire lead by the fiery Fiona. (See Simone Simons.) They start her on the road to her future, and introduce her to a past character (my previous red herring) who helps her.
No murder attempt occurs, though there are serious control issues developing that she has to deal with. I was able to reuse at least half the material I had written from the first two writings here. Made my life easier in some ways, not so easy in others.
* Book 2 (Beloved Lady Mistress) – Moved to Portland, the main character still has to deal with learning about a people she never knew existed. It doesn’t help that she has memories of another person, and that two of the people from these memories arrive to either assist or destroy her.
Here I reprised the murder attempt from the first book, first draft. The other half of that material, added to bits and pieces from the second and third first drafts gave me about half the written words. Using Scrivener, I shoved scenes back and forth, added new ones, and edited the old so that it read smoothly. I was also able to see that I didn’t have much from her point of view, forcing me to beef up her experiences as a second time runaway with her own posse.
Things moved more swiftly on the overall political scene in this round. I spent a good amount of time brainstorming the various governing bodies of this world. Additionally, two members of her family made a surprise appearance. (And I mean that they surprised me with their appearance. I hadn’t planned for them to even exist, but my Muse had other ideas.)
One of the characters left on the cutting room floor, however, was her Human BFF. This would soon come back to haunt me.
* Book 3 – She (and the reader) continues to learn about her past and future and people while building a ruling power base. The assassination attempt from the original Book 2 is reprised here.
This has been the most difficult book to restructure. Most of the paths that led to its previous incarnation have been obliterated by rewrites. While I’ve been able to reprise about sixty thousand words (two thirds of the novel) from previously written material, it’s taking a huge amount of time editing them for the new situations.
My red herring has to be replaced, since I used his character in Book 1. Because of that, the assassination plot has to be altered to remain believable. The entire first draft took place in a house, and is now contained in a business/residential building. New family members, political advisors and the Main Character’s pack of young friends have to be added into the mix. And worst of all — the BFF isn’t around to be used as a plot device.
I’ve been working on this book for six weeks now, and am about halfway through. No worries! I’m still going like gang-busters! It’s simply been much more difficult than I’d imagined. Last week’s blog entry, And So It Goes, was about not allowing yourself to go back and edit while writing, or nothing would ever get done. I’ve been finding myself going over and over my recent material to make certain the changes are being handled properly. (Considering my propensity for editing obsession, I may need intervention before this is over! LOL!)
As I push forward, I find things that must be foreshadowed in earlier scenes, which takes me back to insert something. Then I need to go back another scene or so to read it through for continuity. In any case, it’s taken this long to finally get a feel for the manuscript. I think it’s a good one, and may open the door for more novels about the Sanguire (gods know, I have enough world building and character background to do so.)
So keep in mind if things don’t look right the first time around when writing, no worries. It might be a lot of toil to completely rework a novel, but the satisfaction is going to be marvelous!
If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know! The comment form below will require a valid email address to ensure you’re a real person. (I don’t collect the addresses or do anything with them, so you won’t be getting future spam from me.) If that’s not to your taste, you can email me — the link is up above on the right.