Rewrite incoming

Part of the benefit of writing a story in a blog is that you can edit things.

The Solstice War is a living document. During its first months in existence, there was no “chapter 0” for example. It wasn’t written in small installments, but in gigantic 20,000 word segments. Something like a year into writing it, I decided to overhaul how it would be written from then on to make it more palatable, based on reader feedback. I added chapter 0. I cut the story into segments. Some folks have asked why there are no longer “full text” chapter entries. It’s because I don’t write like that anymore.

Since then, I resisted rewriting. There were parts of Book II, for example, that looking back on, I didn’t really like. I put them there because I felt they would make the story more “complete.” But those perspectives weren’t particularly fun or needed, and I told myself I’d never go back to those characters. Which is a gigantic waste for everyone, but I didn’t want to go back and edit huge portions of the book out that people already saw. I’m still not going to edit that stuff out of Book II. I’ve made my peace with it.

I’ve not made my peace with Book III. For the past few years it’s felt like I’ve been fighting with it. It wasn’t fun to write; it wasn’t even really what I wanted to write. Again, it was a lot of stuff I did because I felt I needed the story to be “complete.” What that meant for me was, showing every different part of a big ww2 style conflict. Planes, ships, tanks, guns and politics. My intention from the start was to have something that was like five or six hugely different “modes” of war that intertwined heavily to show the reader that war isn’t simple: that wars are exceedingly multifaceted, and there is no one big hero in any war. Air power didn’t win it, sea control didn’t win it, land war didn’t win it: it’s a combination of all of these efforts, and no one action hero can do this. There are millions of people involved, millions of fighters, millions of victims, millions of laborers who are working to survive and willingly or not become a part of a war, or a fighter in a war (whether officially armed or not) or a victim of war. And the few in the back are the politicians who start wars and avoid the consequences.

This was my grand ambition for the Solstice War. I was obsessed with a war story that was “complete.” That didn’t settle for one big hero; that didn’t lapse into the juvenile individualism that characterizes war fiction and bothers me so much as both a history nut and a marxist. I wanted a story with a message, but that wasn’t too didactic. It had to have a perfect mix of absolutely everything to fully capture a reader’s imagination.

It was much easier to just say these things, than it is to communicate it in writing in the exceedingly obtuse way that I have been. In my ambition for a “complete” war story that showed “everything,” I became lost in the woods of my own writing, making things that I wasn’t passionate about for the sake of adding another color to a painting, without stopping to look at how messy the canvas had become. I stopped saying things with my writing that I felt were important, and instead became obligated to put things into it to satisfy my own sense of “completeness.” I started to research more and more things that didn’t really make it into the writing, just to say “I know what I’m talking about here.” None of that made for a great story. It made it hard to write. Roughly all the work I’ve done in the past two years has been struggling to introduce more history and characters and slowly build up to the climax in their story, while putting the rest of the story on hold: just because I thought “I have to have an air war story, it’s WW2!”

As of today I’ve returned to Drafts every chapter in the Vulture arc. They’ll live in the CMS and the raw text will be exported and backed up. So all this lives on somewhere. Someday it may even return, perhaps broadly the same, likely quite different. I want to go back and rewrite this story as a continuation of my earlier work, rather than the jarring turn I decided I needed for “completeness.” I’ve learned a lot about writing characters and dialog from these chapters, but it’s not the place and time to do this.

I realized I erred and I have reimagined what this story should be like going forward. There will be retcons to the story going forward: or at least, retcons to stuff you saw that I have removed now. The Vultures will be characters but not in this capacity. They will not be protagonists of their own little story anymore, and going forward the air war chapters will be retold from a different perspective that will focus less on “hey I did a lot of research into WW2 planes!” and more on pushing this story forward, and out of the weeds I had become stuck in. I hope this will help me write consistently again. It’s always easier to begin stories than continue them. I realized I’d been beginning this story all over again, because of that. It’s time to continue it.

Some of the text of those chapters will be completely reused. This is because it pertained to politics in Solstice and abroad that are worth talking about. In fact, the coming chapters will be like, 70% more about politics: with a garnish of flight combat. Think of it like the Benghu Tank War chapters: those chapters were about both existing (Leander) and new characters (Naya) and fused everything together a lot better than in the Vulture chapters. That’s what I’m shooting for going forward. Madiha will return as the principal POV, with Homa and Adesh as the supporting cast.

A lot of the text will be thrown out. Some might see reuse in a side-story later.

To summarize: I’m redoing the “Vulture arc” and continuing the story. Books I and II will remain the same. Though I admit, some stuff from it is just not coming back in the way I thought it would when I wrote it, like the Elven side characters for example.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story that will result from this, even if you lament the loss of the story that came before. I can’t tell you when you’ll start seeing consistent updates again. I’m in pandemic quarantine and kind of weeping for the world right now and I don’t think I’ll ever work normally again: but I want to keep writing.

One comment

  1. I read this story ages ago until I think book III. I wanted to wait until book III was completed before starting the book (as I wouldn’t have to patience to wait for new chapters to come out), but when I plotted the time it would probably take, I just put this on the backburner in my bookmarks and checked periodically. Kind of sad that I’ll have to wait some more now, but I hope you’re doing well and will succeed in making the story how you want it to be. I really loved what it was before and am certain I’ll love the ‘new’ story just as much. Anyways, just wanted to show a bit of support in these trying times.

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