Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thoughts on editing The Heir's Choice

As some of you may know, I'm busy editing The Heir's Choice at the moment. I haven't really said much about how I'm doing, but let me just say this:

Editing a sequel is hard. 

Especially because the sequel and the first book were two halves (literally) of the same book. See originally, I had this awesome 107k word book that I had to split.

And the approximate split was as follows:

The Vanished Knight: 65k words.
The Heir's Choice: 65k words.

"Hey wait!" you might exclaim. (It's all very dramatic in my brain, I promise you.) "That doesn't add up!"

No. Because in order to make TVK into a book on its own, I've had to add about 15k words to the first half of the original book. Which is great.

Except for the bit where every single one of those changes has to be worked into THC. Which is most of what its extra 15k words consists of.

And then I'm not even getting into the real challenge.

As you might know, I'm going to re-publish TVK and publish THC at the same time. There is a very very good reason for this, but I'm not going to go into it. First, I want to see if my plan works.

But if it does work, most of the people reading THC will be doing so immediately after finishing TVK.

So what's the challenge? (Aside from marketing.)

If I assume that my plan will work, no one will want constant reminders of what happened in TVK. If my plan doesn't work, everyone will want a TON of reminders. Which leaves me with the unique challenge of striking the right balance between too much information and not enough.

While making sure that all the main strings I left hanging at the end of TVK gets picked up in THC.


Except.... TVK has a lot of strings.

How are you doing? What are you doing at the moment?


  1. Adding to make a word count - welcome to my world.
    There is a balance with sequels. Even if they weren't released together, I think most readers would want a minimum of reminders. Sprinkling just the right amount is key.

  2. I know this is going to be terrible advice that you don't want to hear, but don't assume that your reader has read book one. They need enough story and plot and closure all contained in book two. If you need to see exactly how much reminding is perfectly necessary, then start becoming a reader of sequels.

    Which means, you have to layer in all the plot pieces from book one, but you don't have to be crazy about it. Just some brief inner monologue "Damn that man and his irascible ways. If he'd just signed the treaty, we wouldn't be trudging through this blasted forest!" I know it seems cheap, but if you do it in the voice of your character, it will feel natural to your reader.

  3. My sequel is being edited. And I didn't know how much back story to put in, but also make it a stand alone. I should find out soon enough..Like Alex said you need a sprinkling of the last story to pull it through.

  4. I am in the process of editing my first book...yet again. I also split my book in two (used to be 140 000 words) and made it into a more reasonable size, but I bet I will have to deal with book two at some point as well. For now I am trying to put the mess of book one back together. I am so glad you have a strategy and that you are making so much progress. Wishing you all the best.

  5. I know exactly what you mean about sprinkling in info from book one to have book two make sense to those who haven't read book one or haven't read book one in a while. It's a tough balance, and I'm still trying to figure it out.

  6. Good Luck with the editing! Take the rewrite in chunks and keep notes. I went through and made a master list of what was in each chapter. That helped a lot.

  7. Ha, I know exactly what you mean. It's a tricky balance. Some authors go way overboard on this (Charlaine Harris drives me nuts with all her reminders) while others don't do enough. Gotta ride that middle ground.

  8. I know what you mean. I ended up writing a 700 word recap scene in my second novel (currently writing) with the main character screaming at his dead father figure's memorial while trying to rationalize what he did in the previous book. We'll see if it beta readers and critique partners think it's enough/too much.

    Best of luck with the editing!

  9. I know you'll work it out eventually.
    Well, I'm almost done with the outline of my story... it's just a bit stuck towards the three-quarter mark. But I know the ending, so that's not too bad.
    Writer In Transit

  10. I'll be in the editing-a-sequel boat with you in a few weeks. I generally enjoy editing, but I'll admit I purposely left a lot of the classic Book 1 reminder & recap threads out of my first draft for Book 2. I didn't want them to distract from Book 2 action and beginnings, plus I knew I'd have a better feel for how to weave in those bridging details once the full draft was banged out. We'll see how it goes!

  11. Misha,
    I went through something similar as far as sequel challenges go, when writing Blood Sword, after Flank Hawk was published. My goal was to write both as standalone novels, and so someone who read FH would equally (if not more) enjoy BS (BS...ha, that's funny) and if they started with BS, they could read and enjoy it without having read FH, and might go and read FH and enjoy that as well.

    I tried to do the same with the third novel in the series (Soul Forge), which was even more difficult being the third novel in.

    It took a lot of study and work, but in the end was worth it. Just as your efforts will be well-worth the time and struggle.

  12. I can see it's hard to make a book stand alone and work as part of a series.

  13. I can understand the problem. I've read a couple of sequels which practically tell the whole of the first story again in the first couple of chapters - that is not what people want to read. I'm sure you'll get the balance just perfect!

  14. It sounds like so much work! Worth it in the end, but I don't like redoing sections of anything I have already done...writing, sewing, cooking...I don't even think I should have to vacuum again when I just did it a week ago! But it is always a good feeling when it's done. Best of luck on it!

  15. At one point I pretended to agents that Parts I and II of the book I just released today were book one of a trilogy, but I came to see the story just doesn't work or flow well split up. I can only imagine how much hard work goes into splitting up a longer book so it doesn't feel like the plot is divided up piecemeal, no real resolution at the end.

  16. Oh gosh… it all seems so complicated. Props to you, Misha!!! I love the idea of them releasing at the same time! And I have NO DOUBT that you will rock it. <3

  17. Sounds like a pretty difficult challenge, to find the right balance of reminders in a sequel. In my case, if I don't find enough and I started with the sequel, it moves me to read the first book but it also bothers me a bit. Good luck with that!

  18. Ha, finding that balance isn't easy. Best wishes to you during your edits. May you stay sane for the challenge.

  19. That's a good idea. Some people wait long for a sequel and then can't remember much of book 1, but if the books come out closer together or at the same time it'll be better.

  20. Hope your marketing ploy works. It should. Hope you don't go nuts working out the details of the two books.

  21. That must be a tonne of work! But once it's done, it will so be worth it.


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