Weighing in at a lean, mean 50K or so words . . .I just finished the initial edits for my crime thriller Alphabet Land. The editors at 280 Steps cut about 4K words, which make the story shift from moving at a brisk pace to a pulse-pounding, break-neck speed! I really dig it. Ditto the other changes they made, namely, getting rid of the character names I was using as chapter headings and replacing them with timestamps. This makes perfect sense from a reader perspective because the entire novel takes place in 24 hours. Now it reads like a super intense episode of 24.
A couple of other things I noticed about Alphabet Land. . .
Thing #1: I have a very little recollection of writing this book. So it was kind of amazing to review it again, almost like reading someone else’s work. I was struck (and, impressed, in all humility) by the cinematic quality of the writing, the hardboiled-ness of the dialog, the gritty settings, and (gulp!) the timely relevance of the themes in play: political and police corruption, race relations, and unemployment. (Note: any “smart” bits, I’ll take credit for, but were, alas, completely accidental.)
Thing #2: The Rook is a dynamic and viable protagonist. As a part-time casket maker, part-time “problem-solver,” the Rook is obsessed with chess, with cleaning up his beloved Alphabet Land neighborhood, and with justice for the disenfranchised. He has a twisted past, a strong moral compass, and an uncompromising nature. Might sound grandiose, but I want to read more stories with him. . .so I guess I have to write them.
Thing #3: I’m pissed-scared I will never be able to write another book. Occupational hazard, or so I’ve been told by better and more experienced writers than myself, but I still feel an odd mixture of awe at I what I was able to finish and crushing doubt that it’s nowhere near as good as I think it is. And that people will not want to read it. Maybe they won’t. Still, it’s finished, so that’s something.
But enough of my belly-aching. I’m passing 50K on Hannah’s Version, my so-called literary novel, and I’ve got miles and miles to go before I sleep.