Split Your Darlings

It’s been an eventful week-and-a-half since my last post, both in real life and in Arlam. Usually, my silence on this blog indicates some kind of frantic activity elsewhere, and that’s certainly been the case on this occasion. In point of fact, I’ve been restructuring my entire novel.

Yes, that’s right. One of the indie publishers to whom I pitched A Sea Sought in Song at the Realm Makers conference responded with interest, but said in no uncertain terms that a 650-page novel would be cost-prohibitive to print. This got me to thinking, and I decided I’d better field-test a counter-proposal in the event that length proved the only dealbreaker.

So I thought and thought, and at last apprehended what had eluded me for years: how to split my novel without sacrificing its narrative arc. The problem had always been that the novel’s internal fault lines didn’t translate well into external boundaries. I solved this by making an incision halfway through Part Two. Suddenly, everything fell into place. After a few minor rearrangements, Book One stood complete at 113,000 words—77,000 less than before. This left Book Two—formerly known as the concluding section of Book One—about 80% complete, pending a few additions and subplot elaborations I’m excited to begin integrating. What’s more, I was able to carry this truncation forward into what had once been Book Two, thereby giving rise to Books Three (~50% complete) and Four.

So now instead of two ~200k-word books, I’m looking at four ~100k-word books. Unless I’m very much mistaken, this effectively doubles the series’ profitability potential while halving a publisher’s initial capital investment. As in the case of subdivided pizza, more pieces create the perception of more content.

The old ~200k-word structure is still viable, of course, but in truth I’ve already grown quite fond of this new structure. Though a number of narrative and thematic through-lines had to be postponed, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the way the restructuring emphasizes slightly different ones. I’m especially pleased by this opportunity to further develop my characters in the New Book Two, which has, for the first time, enough space to accommodate such depth.

So yes—if an imposter had claimed authorship of A Sea Sought in Song, I would’ve failed an intellectual property test devised by King Solomon. ;-p

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