The Final Three (Four?)

Paper head
CC 2010 Drew Coffman

Over the last two weeks, I began revisions on the last three Compact Universe novellas. The fourth in this post’s title refers to a serial I plan to run ahead of the release of Storming Amargosa. That will need revision as well. But I want to focus on these three, which will be the first new releases I give to Clayborne Press after the rest of the series transitions over to them.

Of the these, The Amortals has already been in the can for some time now. I actually went through to catch the typos that almost always accompany new scenes added after the betas have had their way with a book. I also managed to catch repetitive words. (And there were a lot of them.) I also had to retrofit some corrections made in No Marigolds in the Promised Land, the series sequel current free to newsletter subscribers, and material added to the latest draft of Storming Amargosa. A lot of this was simply changing a word or a name or adding a line of dialog to fit the story into the ever-evolving arc. As it stands, I may take it out in a few months before sending to Clayborne Press as I refer to a present-day leader (not American) in a light that may not hold up in a few years.

The Exile, which features Tishla’s would-be assassin Nolan Rosc, could have been a nightmare to revise, but it was originally written longhand. I even worked on it on my honeymoon, which my wife found charming. Normally, I tap away at my Surface. So transcription required an extra draft, which inevitably came with its own revisions. It’s also in novelette territory, too long to be a short story, too short to be a novella. I call it a novella simply because I hate the term “novelette.” This one also required few revisions, probably because of the extra draft. The betas have it now, so I may be barking up the wrong tree.

The final novella in what will become the Homefront Arc is Flight Blade. This is a sort of lower decks story about a pilot and a special forces soldier. One is the son of elites on the Roman-inspired world of Etrusca while the other is a royal from Bonaparte. Its current draft checks in at over 41,000 words, really novel territory. I had to change one character’s name because his original name, Tomle, didn’t sound Latin enough to me. Also, it came from an old role-playing trick of using part of your first and last name to make up a name. However, I didn’t want people to think that this character was a Mary Sue (He’s not. My parents were a truck driver and a stay-at-home mom.), even along the lines of Jack Ryan. So now he has an appropriately Latin name. But this is the story I’m revising this week.

It also might be the most difficult. No Mariogolds only requires one more pass before I move it from newsletter freebie to legitimate release, mainly stripping a few references to a trademarked name out to keep it nicely in homage territory. But Marigolds is pretty much etched in stone. Soon, The Amortals and The Exile will be. Plus, Flight Blade overlaps Storming Amargosa. Not only will subsequent rewrites impact this story, revisions to it will impact Storming. And there are 41,000 words to revise. How much of that will spoil Storming Amargosa?

It’s a lot of work, but this phase of the series is rapidly coming to an end. Kind of bittersweet.