Revisiting older work

So I started Return to Eden right after I finished The Chosen. Then I put it aside for a couple of years, and just recently (like this week) got back to work on it. I’ve written three novels and a collection of poetry in the interim, and it’s been an interesting experience to look back on the bits I’d written and see how my writing style has changed in just a couple of years.

Now it might have only been two years since the time I started the project and the time I came back to it, but those have been two really full years. Let’s take a look at what I’ve written since then.

Hard Day’s Knight – 60,000 words +

Back in Black – 60,000 words

Knight Moves – 60,000 words+

Several short stories for various websites and anthologies, all pretty short pieces – 10,000 words

Red Dirt Boy – Collection of a couple dozen poems

Not to mention a few hundred blog posts, but the voice in those hasn’t really changed. Also, I’ve read a lot about story and craft in the past two years, and really studied a lot about how to write a novel and a series. So it’s no surprise that my style is a bit different, and that I see a LOT of things I want to go back and tweak in the early parts of the book. But I’m going to force myself to forge ahead, and get at least the first draft completed before I make any major revisions. Heinlein’s rules have been quoted around the internet for years, and I’ve come across them several times in the past week, and they’ve really helped me keep from going back and tinkering with Return before I get the first draft done.

Heinlein’s Rules for Writing

1) You must write

2) Finish what you start

3) You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order

4) You must put your story on the market

5) You must keep it on the market until it has sold

6) Start working on something else

Obviously I don’t agree with all of these, particularly the not rewriting except to editorial order. I’m still a believer in the process of revision, but that’s the great thing about rules – once you know what they are, you can break the ones you don’t like!

So I’m bulldozing through on Return, and it’s an interesting process. This story moves a lot more slowly than the Black Knight books, which worries me a little bit. There’s always that niggling doubt about whether or not the fans of one series will enjoy a series that’s very different. In this I take inspiration from Jim Butcher, who writes The Dresden Files in a very quick style, but also writes the Codex Alera series in a more slow, convoluted style. Both series are excellent, but one moves at a much slower pace than the other, just because that’s how those stories want to be told. The characters in Return want their stories to unfold slowly, so I’m letting them tell the story at their pace. And that pace so far is 20,000 words without any supernatural events or anyone getting killed.

Once it’s finished, I may need to tighten up the pacing somewhat, but there’s been plenty going on in those 20K words. The catalyst for the magic in the story just hasn’t happened yet. But it’s coming. Oh yes, it’s coming soon…

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