I do not like starting over. It’s a real pain in the ass, to be frank. You feel like months of work (or years depending on what we’re talking about) are wasted and you have to go through all that pain and anguish again. But, such is life.
My philosophy has been to try and power through first drafts without regard to how they had gone off track. My intentions were good… get it finished, then deal with the re-write. But the further I got into the latest novel, the more it felt forced and icky and the further I moved away from the track I knew it needed to take. So, I made the difficult decision to put aside what I’ve written (I’ll scavenge pieces from it as I go along of course) and put things right.
What was working: one of the characters was working well and I enjoyed writing his part of the story; the overall concept is interesting and sound; there was some decent writing, especially early on; artillery versus iron golem… how can you beat that?
What wasn’t working: jumping around four viewpoints; it was an entirely a unique world history but I really wanted to tie it more closely to real earth history (but with magic versus technology); some of the characters were flat on paper and I hadn’t found their core personalities; trying to make it “feel” too much like the Mirabel Sinclair detective story (it’s not, it shouldn’t be, and thus part of my issue).
So I’ve done a prologue now that details the Arch-duke’s assassination along with his wife. I like it… there’s legs there. I’ve whittled down the viewpoints to three, one of which will only appear from time to time (and may alternate with an equally rare viewpoint from the other side of the war). So really two main views, and a couple of minor ones. The hard part, of course, will be the research required to connect past history to my history. I want it to feel like Europe in 1914/1915 but not quite. I want it to feel like one world, but a world that was separated into two halves which – until this event – mostly disavowed the other half and kept to themselves.
So the Arch-duke and his wife have been assassinated, but not merely because of lands. Instead it was because the assassins suspected them of witchcraft, of being magic users. They were evil, in consort with the devil, and the good Christian men and women of the “steel nations” won’t tolerate those types ruling their lands. The magic using, goddess worshiping folks of the “green nations” are appalled… and our catalyst for war begins to churn. There’s more to it then that, a long litany of exploitation, fear, previous wars that set the borders in place that lead to this one. There’s the Veil, the great barrier between steel and green that keeps them separate but for carefully guarded and maintained “doors” that allow some small commerce as well as diplomatic connections. But when the assassination happens, the Veil falls, and the borders are thrown wide open… two halves of a world, separated by opposing belief systems are now in contact across thousands of miles of territory, and everyone has a reason to feel pissed off.
World War I, the Great War, the War to End All Wars. And now its a war of guns versus arrows, bombs versus fireballs, technology versus magic.
Hopefully I won’t have to start over again…
Post Note: just before I planned to post this I got an email from one of the magazines I’ve been submitting to that one of their readers liked my short story, Ricky Flies, and they are holding it for further consideration. So yeah!!!! Not QUITE the same as accepting it for publication, but a huge step in the right direction which makes me very happy. Fingers crossed they’ll want to publish it.