Monday, June 05, 2006

Hal three: wheee!

Some of you may be aware that an early version of Hal Spacejock Just Desserts (Hal 3) was released under the Bowman Publishing imprint in 2003, but you may not realise that only 100 copies sold before Fremantle Arts took on the series. (Incidentally, if you spot one of these, grab it.)

Well, I've been rewriting Hal 3 for FACP since September last year, and over the past few weeks all that hard work has started to pay off. Any of the 100 people who read the Bowman edition would hardly recognise this book, since half the plot has been dumped along with two major characters. (Not Hal and Clunk!) I've

The problem was that the original book was a political satire, but it wasn't particularly satirical. The first character I chose to dump was a political leader with all the personality of ... a political leader. The other was his advisor, who if anything was even more boring.

Another problem was that while Hal and Clunk faced numerous challenges, none of them rated much higher than getting a puncture on the way to your own wedding.

I thought the book hung together pretty well, but each time I had a discussion with my editor I came up with ideas further and further from the original. Hence the lengthy rewrite, which has lasted 7 months on and off.

So, is it better? In a word, yes. The new major character only appeared in two chapters of the original, and even then they only have the name in common. (And I'm about to change the surname, too...) At least fifty percent of the plot is completely different, and I doubt many scenes will survive in their original form.

That's the beauty of rewrites, which is what this somewhat rambling post is all about. Yes, it's hard to hack into your cherished paragraphs, scenes and chapters, and it's doubly hard to lose gags and jokes you once laughed over. But the finished product is all that counts, and if you bear in mind I spent eight months writing the original, followed by three months editing, and have now spent seven or eight months stripping it down and doing it all over again, that's one hell of a lot of work for a book you'll probably devour in two days.

Remember that next time you're moaning an author got it all wrong ;-)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

1 comment:

Fahim said...

I've been putting off doing that very thing (stripping it down to the basics and reassembling it) for my first novel :) Now that I've started writing the second one, I see that I probably will have to do that sooner rather than later for the first one. I hate to lose good sentences and gags and it looks as if I might have to get over that if I'm going to do this rewrite ... Ah, the joys of writing :p