The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cutting a zombie in half

I recently finished my "zombie" (more "28 Days Later" than Romero-style) novel, "DEVIL'S WAKE" and turned it in, and our editor, Malaika Adero, was thrilled.

Then...we got the call. There was a problem. The problem was that it was too long. Ouch. We had a couple of choices: we could cut it down, or...

The second option: we divided it into two parts. Luckily there was more than enough action, romance, horror, and fun to make that work, but we had to go back in and:

1) be certain that both halves have their own story arc.

2) be certain that the character arcs complete in each book (or at least "round" in a satisfying fashion.

3) find a good title for the second half, and be certain that the titles "work." (The title "Devil's Wake" relates to the name of a Catalina Island-like sanctuary my characters dream of. The name derives from a luminescent phytoplankton display off the coast, resembling a demonic face. Also, of course, it is a pun: "Devils" (zombies) are awakening in the world). Originally, they make it all the way to D.W. by the end of the book, but now the first book ends half-way through their journey. Adjustments must be made.


There are other things that have to be adjusted, but it is fun to note that we already have multiple inquiries from movie studios, and foreign publishers. Yummy. All of this re-writing is based on the ability to step "back" and see/feel the rhythm of the entire work, or focus up on individual scenes, character interactions, descriptions and so forth and be certain that they all work to create a cohesive whole.

That is difficult. The same skill is necessary in life. To see every day as a unit in itself, but also a step toward a unified vision of living with integrity and passion. Often, if you can't see a way out of a problem, all you can do is take another step, with integrity, courage, and all the energy and joy you can muster.

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Jeff Davis said...

Hi Steve, congratulations on being rewarded for standing on your principles. Now that you are going for two books, why not make it a trilogy?
Jeff Davis

Steven Barnes said...

It's going to be a series. We're just getting started!