Adding Or Padding?

Paper head
CC 2010 Drew Coffman

I’ve written here before about how the final Amargosa novel checked in much shorter than the previous two. I also became aware as the forthcoming novella The Amortals underwent revision that two or three threads through the previous novellas will need to be wrapped up. I could leave them open-ended, but then I don’t know when or how I’m going to continue the series once events on Amargosa draw to a close.

So I wrote a new outline, incorporating the existing novel, to add to this plotline. I have threads including the whole Germanicus vs. Leitman conflict, where Douglas Best is headed, and some of the political machinations back home, specifically how the Compact is changing from looking like the current UN to one with a paramount leader. (Da da DAH!!!)

I also expanded a couple of plot threads from the original to add some tension. JT Austin, in particular, starts the original manuscript chasing a fugitive whom we first see being chased by Gelt. I’ve added a couple of scenes to make JT’s initial rebelliousness a little more logical within the story. It also does a better job of establishing where JT is after the end of Second Wave and why he would care if someone is chased by Gelt.

It’s an old trick, adding POV characters to expand a manuscript. I tend to write lean and, according to the editor of a Jim Winter story I just submitted, write even leaner these days. At the same time, there’s a caution, even dogma, against having too many POV characters. Because my “meddling kids,” the group that JT and Davra have been with since the start of the Amargosa Trilogy, are so separated, the current version already has four POV characters. Now I have added three more. I had to flip a coin. Do I narrow the focus? If so, JT and Davra (and maybe Eric Yuwono) will leave me with an even shorter book.

Someone suggested I buck the convention of making the last part of a trilogy longer and just accept a shorter book. Only looking at this as a reader, I think I’d be disappointed.

Were this crime, I most definitely would cut this back to two or three POV characters. I’m facing that problem right now with the Holland Bay follow up being shopped as Jim Winter. It needs to be three POV characters, but a couple of them want to speak as well. It’s possible I may ditch a plot line. But the Amargosa novels are science fiction. Massive POVs are the rule, not the exception.

That, or I need to quit reading Neal Asher. Not happening.