So, I woke up the other night at 3 o’clock in the morning thinking about my current #WIP (work in progress) The Last Magus. Something has been bugging me, so much so that I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it (a common problem with writers). Anyway, this book topped off at 189,000 words. A monster, right? So, I’ve been having issues with the excessive length, but to me it’s a complete book. What do I do?
I had a similar issue with the second novel in the Forever Avalon series, The Dark Tides. I originally started to write this book as a prequel to my first novel, but the more I wrote, the more I didn’t like the approach. I wanted the story to go forward, not backwards, so then the idea came to me. I took the sections I already wrote and decided to use them as flashbacks instead. When I finished The Dark Tides, it was nearly 200,000 words. In the end, I cut it back to around 165,000, but that’s how I wanted it to be. To me, it was a finished novel.
So now I’m having the same issue with The Last Magus. It’s a brute but I love the way it is. What do I do? The answer is simple… Cut it in half. I think if I can find a good point, I can split the story in two and have two novels instead of one big one. So now that I know what to do, the question is how to do it?
I have a prologue, 21 chapters, and an epilogue. Splitting it in half also means writing a new epilogue for the first book and a new prologue for the second book, so they both are connected. I have my work cut out for me on a project I thought was finished with just editing work in progress.
This is a hard decision for any writer. You think you’ve written this great novel, until you start editing and realize… “What the hell was I thinking?” It’s not easy to be so critical of ones own work. I spent a good part of six months writing it in the first place and the next six editing. Now, having to split one novel into two, I have more writing and editing to do. This also puts a damper on other writing projects I had started.
It’s also a development issue. I laid out this story and never expected this issue to come up like it did. I mean, my novel just grew and grew exponentially. It had a life unto itself at times. I now have to go back and rethink my original concept. That’s hard for me because I thought I had it down. To be honest, I’m not very good at changing things on the fly. Usually, I write and the story develops as I write.
It’s like having to start the process all over again, which extends out every other project I had going on. It’s difficult to explain but I know other writers can attest to this frustration. I’ve said many times before how my mind is like a Broadway play running nightly shows. My stories play themselves out daily, two extra shows on the weekends. So now, it’s like the lead actor and the understudy have fallen ill, closing the show while another one quickly jumps in to fill the gap; but I can’t stop thinking about getting the other one back on stage. Do you get what I mean?
I think this is why many great authors drank, used drugs, and caroused. If you don’t have something on the side, the sheer madness of it all will overwhelm you. I’ll end this with a great quote from Alain de Botton…
“Writing isn’t a career choice. It’s self-medication that over time precipitates the madness it was meant to ward off.”
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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.