I’m home sick today. While I’m counting down to my doctor’s appointment this afternoon, I’ve been trying to think about House of Cards and where I want to go with it. And I’m getting absolutely nowhere. I’m having a crisis of conscience on what to do. When I finished the first draft back in September, I already knew several things, which were confirmed by my beta readers:
- I needed to make the romance and the suspense subplots more in line and entwined
- I needed to eliminate the assorted subplots that didn’t really add substantively to the story
- I needed to come up with a way to avoid having DNA testing done on the body of–well I won’t mention who, but an important person
- I needed to make my heroine a bit less tortured (it was that over angsty Mary Sue thing going on)
- I needed to seed more clues as to who the bad guy was throughout the book
- And I generally needed to shorten the timeline in the name of suspense and pare things down to the essentials
I don’t have a problem with any of that. However, as I sat down and began working on this “new draft” it doesn’t bear any real resemblance to the old. It’s an entirely new book. The only things that remain the same are the fact that the hero and heroine had a past, the heroine lost her spouse, the killer picked off the same victims as before, and the heroine still works for the FBI. That’s about it.
I’ve changed the location. I’ve eliminated those subplots. I came up with a satisfactory reason to avoid the DNA testing. But then I changed all this other stuff, and I’m wondering whether I’ve totally lost the essence of the original book. There were problems with the first version, certainly. But I don’t know that it sucked as much and needed quite as many changes a I am trying to make. I am wondering whether I’m throwing out the baby with the bathwater so to speak.
Then again there’s the issue of my emotional attachment to the original story, the fact that starting over from scratch is freaking hard, and the fact that I put so much effort and work in the first one it seems a shame to throw it all away.
Which leaves me no closer to an answer than before.
I will probably continue on my current path of writing an essentially new book. Why? Because I don’t think I can keep most of the old one without falling into the same traps and mistakes and rule breaking I did the first time. Which kind of sucks, but there you go. It means I’m going to be taking longer to get this one done and will probably have some dead time writing wise as I wrestle with what the hell I’m doing with my plot and where I’m going with it. I’ve spent a lot of effort thinking about the victims and the killer and the disposition of bodies and how that implies this that or the other thing in a profile of the killer. I know the order they happen, and I’m starting to get a better idea of how I can frame the hero for it. But as to the actual STORY…it’s a blank slate, and that’s just a little scary. I half wonder if I’d be better off pretending it IS a whole new book with new names, etc.? I wonder if that would help me let go of some of these assumptions and issues with my old characters and the old story. Probably not. That’s probably just an excuse to play with names again.
Drugged and sick is probably not the best condition to make these decisions in.