I admit that from time to time I am a ready-shoot-aim type of guy. When I have an idea and a passion for something I like to dive in and see it happen. That is my greatest weakness but also my greatest strength. The good news is that I also enjoy sharing my mistakes and my imperfections. If someone else can benefit than there is value in error. I try not to take myself too seriously.
You and Me against the World was never intended as anything more than a short story written for my web readers (see all my free stories here). It was a few months into the story that I realized I had an actual novel on my hands – a short time later I realized it would require a trilogy to complete the story.
That made me anxious and excited to complete the story. The whole story. I couldn’t wait to have all three books complete and on my shelf. That’s another little quirk on mine – if I own something I need to own the complete series. Once, when I discovered Richard Laymon, I went out and bought all of his novels at once. Most of which I had to buy from Amazon UK at higher prices and crazy shipping charges. Had I been a little more patient I could have waited until they appeared on Amazon U. S. And saved some money.
So I was excited that I was actually writing a novel and excited to be the author of the entire saga. I adhere to the belief that “a man can’t build a reputation on what he is going to do.” My rush to publication cost me in a number of ways. The first was the monetary costs related to re-publishing the second (and coming third) edition of the first book. The second was it delayed fully marketing my master piece which is preventing me from being known as the best apocalyptic zombie story author ever! Okay so at least it delayed the full press marketing effort.
In total I made five mistakes with my first novel. Mistakes you may want to avoid. Mistakes that are pretty easy to avoid. Each worthy of its own post…you can read the first one here:
Outlines and Plot Lines – Mistake Number One
I wrote a blog a few years ago criticizing the many film-makers who slaughter zombie movies with their seemingly inability to understand the point of the genre. In that post I stated I was working on my own zombie story which would do justice to the walking dead. My usual web readers responded with eagerness. They enjoyed my short horror stories and most horror fans froth at the idea of a good zombie tale.
With motivation in hand I began to pen the short story U & Me Against the World. I started with a familiar short story technique – the first person journal. Doctor Thorn was already in his home and under siege by the infected. A few thousand words into it and I hated it. I deleted the file and began again.
In my mind I had a basic plot working. I knew how I would make the “zombies” familiar enough to satisfy genre fans and unique enough to be something “different.” Somewhere around the 4th chapter I realized I wanted to take a slightly different direction. I wanted to add more than just the traditional 4-character approach that we often see in zombie survival tales. I wrote Chapter 5 called Interludes and introduced a string of characters through short vignettes of their day that the world died. That chapter was the tipping point. It was the place I decided I would write a novel and it was the origin of my first mistake.
I knew the story would be a novel. I didn’t realize it would be two or three novels. I knew exactly where the story would end. Unfortunately I did not create an outline that took me from book one to the end of the story.
The benefit to that mistake is the story moves very fast. It’s cinematic in that fashion. The downside is that book one really should have been two books. I had a lot more to show and still lament over having left the early days of the apocalypse behind. I have a plan to revisit the early days through the last book in the series, but still I wish I had spent more time there.
Writing a novel as a web series has more benefits than detractions. An issue I discuss in my series Right that Novel which is here. The one detraction is that once you publish a chapter, you’re semi-committed to a path. You can’t unkill a character or change their backstory. But I hardly blame it on the web series. As the author I had a responsibility to my story. I should have planned out things a little differently – I should have worked my way backwards from the end to the beginning. Of course the reverse is a far worse end for a novel. To be so paralyzed by outlines, plot lines and character sketches that the book never gets written.
The plot line thing wasn’t my biggest mistake. The first book is really good and I’m proud to have my name on it. A far bigger mistake was…
Coming Next: A Self- Editor Be Not Be