I released Storm Without End today. I guess it's the end of one journey and the start of another. It has been a long road, and I'm glad I walked it.
Storm Without End began a long time ago. To be exact, about six years ago, when I wrote Trial by Fire. Trial by Fire was a traditional fantasy about a young man who gets magically transformed into a child. Yes, it was about as cheesy as it sounds.
I was learning. I was experimenting. I was having fun.
I rewrote it. Trial by Fire became a story called Betrayer's Truth. I rewrote Betrayer's Truth twice. The first version was around 90,000 words. The second version was about 140,000 words. There were a few transition versions before I scrapped the whole thing and rewrote it again. This story was called Ascension.
Ascension is the prequel to Storm Without End. I think I went through two or three different versions of Ascension before I realized that all I was doing was regurgitating backstory.
November 1, 2012, I wrote the first words of Storm Without End. That's right, this novel was born as a NaNoWriMo monstrosity. I'm not ashamed of this.
I wrote just over 50,000 words in November. (50,028 to be exact.) I took December off. It took me January and February of 2013 to finish drafting Storm Without End.
Storm Without End is 99,000 words long.
I sat on it for a few months while working on The Eye of God.
We'll sit on Storm Without End for a minute to talk about The Eye of God and what that interruption meant. I wrote the original The Eye of God about half of a year prior to Storm Without End. I learned a lot. I mean, a lot from The Eye of God.
Like the fact I needed to rewrite The Eye of God to make it a publishable novel. I took the style and skills I learned from writing Storm Without End and spent a few months rewriting The Eye of God as fast as I could.
In the end, I got a mix of the styles of the original The Eye of God and Storm Without End. It isn't my best novel. I did the best I could. I made mistakes. I'm proud of The Eye of God. I always will be. But, it could use improvement in so many ways.
Storm Without End represents all of the real effort I put into writing. I've been working on this book for a long time.
Today, I let it go. I'm done. I'm sure there are spelling errors here and there, and a random grammar foopah that needs corrected. Over time, I will fix these things.
Editing Storm Without End was a much different process than editing The Eye of God. I printed Storm Without End. I marked up things. I fixed those things. I did most of the work on the computer. I picked at it. Over the course of the months following the production of The Eye of God, Storm Without End was been flying under the radar.
Along came a few months ago, and I got into full swing preparing Storm Without End for publication.
I added three scenes to the novel. I reworked a few scenes. I added a few details, here and there, that beta readers said they wanted.
The heart and the soul of the novel didn't change from my NaNoWriMo. Really, I fixed things. I strengthened the writing. I improved some elements of some characters.
But I didn't rewrite the book. I'd already paid that piper. I think I held back for a few months because I had convinced myself rewriting is necessary.
It wasn't. Editing, Proofing, and Fine-Tuning were necessary.
Lesson learned. I think my beta readers and my editors would have slain me and used my skin for parchment if I had tried to rewrite the thing.
I learned a few things about myself while working on Storm Without End.
1: Rewriting has to stop at some point. No, seriously. It has to stop. There is only so many times someone can rewrite a single project without beating the heart and soul out of it. Tell your story. Clean up the writing. Clean up the grammar and spelling so people can enjoy the story. But stop rewriting. Once or twice is expected. Three, four, or more times?
It took me six+ significant tries to get Storm Without End. I don't regret this.
Why? Each actual rewrite (marked by the name changes) was a different story. I wasn't meant to rewrite novels. I was meant to write them, tear down the scaffolding, and rebuild the story on the foundation of its original scenes.
That's how I work best.
I think The Eye of God suffered because I didn't let it just grow. I saddled the original version to its back, and forced it to bear that load.
I will not make that mistake on my future books. I'll fix things. I'll correct scenes. I'll rewrite chunks of scenes.
I don't think I'll ever completely rewrite a novel again, and force it to the same form as the original version. That method just doesn't work for me.
2: I have to trust myself more, and trust myself less. I have to trust myself to tell a story people want to read. But I have to understand that I have to make that story make sense, that the words I use need to be polished. That I can't just read a scene once or twice and send it off to my proofing editors.
Once or twice isn't enough. I need to reread the book at least five or six times before I really start fixing the problems with the writing.
3: It takes courage to write a novel. In Storm Without End, there is a scene I actually cut from the original version of it. It was one of the three scenes I added back in. It was a risk. It was a terribly difficult scene for me to write. It was even harder still to transcribe after writing. But, every single beta reader (and editor) insisted the scene needed to be present.
It took a lot of courage to include that scene. I did it, I didn't like doing it, but I sat down and did it all the same.
Writing is hard. So is letting characters live and experience the consequences of their actions.
The book was made stronger for the inclusion.
Here is how the actual writing process timeline:
November 2012: I wrote the first 50,028 words.
January & February 2013: I finished the draft. It was 94,000 words.
March through July 2013: I rewrote and edited The Eye of God.
August 2013 & September 2013: I picked at edits on Storm Without End.
October 2013: Novel was shredded by proofing editorial people.
Yesterday: Finalized proofing edits. Reread novel checking for obvious errors. Formatted. (12+ hour day.)
Thank you for being there with me as I worked on writing my novels. You may not know I notice, but I do.