A lot of people look at me funny when I say I spun up the entire Suicide Arc in 14 months. I sort of did it on a dare. Another writer told me his publisher wanted a lot of content they could sell, so I outlined and wrote a novel about each of the children of Amargosa anchored by a trilogy of books about Suicide herself. The quarantine played a role in this. With Uber not available as a side gig, I switched to Door Dash. So, between deliveries, I dictated. A normally writing day could yield 1000-2000 words. Dictation allowed me to write as much as 15,000 words in a weekend and 4000 a day during the week. The weekend totals were closer to 10,000. At 56K a month, you could spin up a lot of content. Only…
The last story proved a problem. And it’s not the first time I had a problem with the finale of a story arc. Storming Amargosa, the final story in the Amargosa Trilogy, required six rewrites, the shortest draft checking in at 62,000 words, the longest 125,000. It’s now a reasonable 95,000.
Storming had several narrative threads to either wrap up or at least push forward. Who are Leitman and Germanicus really? What happens to Douglas Best? And the Tishla and JT kept trying to take over a story that had several other characters who needed attention. Part of it was going with extra POV’s. It was supposed to have only four originally, enough to contain the sprawl of the story. Later on, more would be added to give the reader an idea of what was happening when the four POV characters could not put eyeballs on a scene. I dropped one plotline entirely; let two characters be intimate, if mainly because it cut about 15,000 words; and limited the non-protag/antagonist scenes to dramatic third person. (One exception: A fighter pilot during Amargosa’s liberation. I needed to put the reader in the cockpit.)
But Suicide Solution, the final story in the arc, proved a problem. Being the last story, I needed Suicide to interact with all of the Children of Amargosa. I also needed to do something about a 20,000-word epilogue that’s practically a novella unto itself. At the same time, Suicide Run and the rest of the arc, are all single POV. Plus, like Storming, I could not get the story to work.
So, I tried writing it backwards. I had an early part of the story that worked well enough, so I started from the epilogue, including a Nooooooo! scene and a reveal how Suicide really exits the Compact Universe story. That gave me…
Well, you wouldn’t want to read it.
So, I put it away. Once I found a rhythm with CHBB, about every six months or so, I knew I had until late 2024 to whip this into shape. So, I had to teach myself a lesson I’ve been trying to teach my brother-in-law since he started writing last year.
Leave the damn first draft alone!!!
I released Checkmate. As Jim Winter, I released Holland Bay. I edited Royal Orders and the first draft of Holland Bay‘s follow-up. But Suicide Solution refused to come along. for the ride. With Royal Orders waiting for submission and the crime novel with a first reader, I decided to rewrite Suicide Solution before it started burning up more brain cycles. Besides, I owe Down & Out another novel, have more Suicide Arc to edit and push out the door, and to plan for beyond those two series.
I was able to salvage some of the first draft, but not as much as I’d hoped. I limited outside POV to interludes and the epilogue. It’s still not ready for prime time, but it’s readable now. I can peacefully leave this in the drawer while I focus on more pressing matters.