Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Big Project

(This was also posted on the Story Project Board on FM)

I started the Devlin books back in the late 80's. This is a science fiction series about a woman who heads a special team for the Inner World Council Security agency. She is one of their top five agents, and the one who has the kinds of assignments no one else wants. She has a reputation for being unorthodox, getting things done, and for being very hard to work with. In the first book of the series, she happens in with two people who can work with her, and the adventure (and love interest -- yes, from me) is off and running.

Some of the books have been re-worked over the years, but none of the 9 completed books and 2 short stories are up to publication quality. I also still have at least three more full novels to write for the series. As it stands now, this is the work:

1: Dancer

2: Autumn Skies

3: Medusan Mutation

4: Missing Persons (short book)

5: Aldebaren Stopover (short book)

6: Legend

7: Pavo

8: Wolf Pack

9: Honor Bound

10: Nightmares and Monsters (novella)

11: The Dark Places (novella)

12: That Which is Holy (Not Written)

13: Treason (Not Written)

14: Lindy (Not Written)

Every time I've considered these stories, several things stopped me from seriously reworking them as a set. For a while, I even considered abandoning the series, but there is a lot of work in those pages and some very good stories in there. I love the characters and I think about Devlin and her 'boys' almost every day. I take that as a sign.

Deciding I want to rework the series brought up the time factor. I kept telling myself that I would wait until I had more time for something this massive. Yeah. Right. Just ignore that bit of lunacy.

So then I am left facing the stories themselves. While the characters are generally good and the plots are exciting, most of the material was written between 20 and 30 years ago (ACK!) and the prose ... well, it sucks. Not only that, but there are also horrid inconsistencies between books because back then I hadn't a clue about true world building and background work. Added to the problem is that they are part of the larger set of stories set in the IWC Universe. Some of those other stories (Farstep Station, Lucky, etc.) have been published. There is far more material that hasn't been. It's long past time to get that timeline and background work into order.

So, I'm taking some of my own advice:

I have printed off the last version of Dancer I did back in the early 2000's and still hated. I'm pulling out the plot and a few good lines and dropping them into WriteItNow for the outline and using the programs timeline and notes to keep track of the world building and such, as well as adding in outside pieces for the overall universe. I'll carry that work over to each new book and add to it. I'll use the scene sections to do the outline, and this will very much be a Phase Outline:

I am seriously considering doing at least three or four of the outlines and background work before I do the actual rewrites. I think I need to have the world building firmly in place and I can't do that until I see what I need in the later works. There is another problem: The Devlin books are part of a larger science fiction universe. Some of the stories in it have been published, and I need to make sure that, at the very least, I have the timeline right for the rest of the stories.

Okay, so all of that is workable, though it's going to mean a great deal of background work. That's okay. I like to do that kind of stuff.

There is one last little thing to consider. Twelve novels and two novellas adds up to a lot of words. If the novels run an average of about 90k (some of them are well over that in the current versions) then it means this will be somewhere about a million words when I'm done. Writing a million words doesn't worry me. I do that every year. Writing a million on a single, unified project? EEEK!

Good thing I really like Devlin and the boys....

1 comment:

J.A. Marlow said...

Hehe, good, it's official! Nice to know all our prodding did some good, although I really think you would have come back to it all sooner rather than later without it. ;)

I'm looking forward to the stories! I wanna read! My challenge of 3 still applies. ;)