Tuesday, September 6, 2011


So with the final edit of '1.4' now with my editor, it's time for this writer to dust off his thinking cap and come up with something new.

I have a treatment for another book (1.0) to prepare; an idea for another book called '2360 Mhz' to flesh out and explore; a list of several other ideas to be worked though; and . . .

. . . and time to drag a much-worked book from limbo, to retool and re-title and rewrite.

The 'cat book' - the first of a trilogy, of which the first book is written, the last book almost written too, and the middle book still in early development. It may seem to be a strange way to work, to have the beginning and the end on paper and to only have a nebulous middle, but the trilogy requires the start and finish to be just right, whilst the middle can be a little looser, a little more free-form.

Reading the first book through I am actually, pleasantly, surprised by how good it is. So many cool ideas and events and characters and some really bold set pieces.

So why does it remain in my 'works-in-progress' folder?

Maybe what it really needs it rebranding.

Now I hate phrases like 'rebranding' as much as the next guy; it has a horrible, almost sinister sound, where the old thing is re-dressed in a focus-grouped wrapper and served up as something new, but I realise that the problem with this novel is that it fails to tell you what kind of novel it is.

It's a time travel, genetically-altered-battle-cats-from-the-future, suspense, future war thriller. With monsters. So why does my manuscript look like it's a gothic chiller?

The first book is fast, fun and furiously-paced, so why have I saddled it with the unwieldy title 'A Creature Darker Than the Night: Book One - The Unending War'?

In twenty minutes I have retitled it 'Cat's Paw' (to be followed, I muse, by 'Cat's Claw' and 'Cat's Cradle'), and have noticed that the opening is suffering from too much info-dump to be a satisfactory in-road to the story.

So I trim it down, swap the prologue into the present tense to make it more immediate, and then sit back and read.

Then I realise I need to rewrite the subsequent chapters from this character's P.O.V. into present tense too.

And I lose any gothic trappings from my manuscript, and for chapter headings I substitute the font 'Morpheus' for 'OCR A Std'.

You know what?

It's looking pretty fine now. You know what the story is now, without signifiers from another genre muddying the waters.

I guess I need to go through the whole book with this new rebranding in mind.

I'll tell you how I get on.

But it makes me realise that many of the decisions we make early on in the writing of a book can colour the rest of the story, subtly affecting the mood and tone. It will also serve to shape a reader's perception of the work.

It's only when you come back to it, look at it from another angle and with the benefit of time, that you can see that some of those choices do not fit the book.

I've given myself a week or so's extra work, but I have given the book a chance.

Our first instincts are not always correct.

It's a thought that is both sobering and liberating.

Now excuse me, I have a book to rebrand.

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