Rewriting What’s Already Out

Paper head
CC 2010 Drew Coffman

If you’ve watched the Minioncast or read my newsletter, you know I’m pulling the Amargosa novels and one of the novellas later this month. It’s not the first time I’ve done a rerelease, but I’m doing more than just handing them off to a publisher this time or changing the covers.

By the way, I’m changing the covers.

I’ve spoken before here and on my editing blog about how The Children of Amargosa was developmentally edited and should have, at bare minimum, had a proofread before I uploaded the first edition. However, self publishing was only then becoming a viable option. There is a steep learning curve. Covers, I realized, are not easy. Impatience is the enemy of self-editing. And never mind marketing. I’m just now coming to grips with that. It’s 2022. I released Children in 2015.

So, I’m doing a full-on line edit of all three books in the trilogy, plus Gimme Shelter, a short novella called Among Wolves, and some deleted scenes from StormingChildren proved to be somewhat easy to line edit. Duffy’s first name flipped back and forth between “Connor” (the official spelling as of now) and Conner. And I had no instances where Lizzy’s name was spelled “Lizzie.” Believe it or not, that’s a check I run on all the Suicide Arc novels now. And then we get to Second Wave and…

Hoo boy.

Missing words. Missing phrases. A casual reread of Storming Amargosa reveals another issue. I did a developmental self edit on that one. That involves cutting and adding scenes, moving them around to make more chronological sense. And yet…

I really wish I stopped and did a full line edit on that one, but after the sixth rewrite, I was done! I did not have these issues with the Suicide Arc because, well, I started revising them, one after the other, as soon as the last novel was in the can. But I ran into errors like Davra dodging Gelt in the occupied city of Riverside a full day before they actually arrive. And again, there are missing phrases, usually the result of cutting a scene and pasting it somewhere else. If you think you’re going to spot those in your own work so soon after a major revision, think again. I was exhausted with this story and wanted it out the door.

Fortunately, I’ve gotten very good at editing. (Contact me. Reasonable rates.)

There are other reasons to periodically go back and do revisions to existing work. One is we tend to improve as writers over time. What sounded brilliant in your first novel is cringe-inducing five books later. I’ve made no secret I have a love/hate relationship with my first novel, Northcoast Shakedown. Part of it was how badly it landed. A lot of it has to do with the choices I made on language, sexual situations, and so on. But it’s from another time. If I ever offer it to Down & Out or another publisher, I’ll likely do a line edit on it, along with the ones I released myself years later.

With Holland Bay and the Suicide Arc out now, with few to virtually no errors, the Amargosa books and their related novellas need to be cleaned up and made more consistent. So, come September 15, they disappear for a bit, reappearing one at a time starting in October.

As for altering the plot? That’s just an insult to readers who’ve already read the series. It’s one thing to bring Suicide’s ancestry in line with the actual novel about Suicide. Quite another to let Lizzy live or give Ellie Nardino magic powers (which wouldn’t work in this series anyway. I don’t even do time travel!)

It’s a lot of work, but so worth it.