I have a new plan of attack for my series that involves blowing up my first story. There are four books in the series with the fourth book serving as a segue into the next series. The first two books are (or were) completed and the second two are partials. But now, the first book is in line for a major overhaul. There is a big age difference between the hero and the heroine and the way it starts now makes that too obvious. There are two main reasons I want to avoid highlighting that. One is that my other stories have a more traditional age ranges for the hero and hero. I usually go with late twenties to early thirties, although the next series has an older heroine. And second but related to the first, is that as my first book, readers might think that is my style and expect that in future stories only to never see it again.
Now I am going scene by scene to identify which ones have to go, which ones can be altered to fit the new timeline, and which ones can stay. The next step will be to identify the gaps. I use Joseph Campbell’s Heroes Journey and Pam Regis’ Essential Elements as the structure for my stories so the gaps should be easy to see – black spot in the chart = no scene.
Rookie writers are often told to write your story, then get rid of the first two chapters. I’m going to be getting rid of at least the first four. The information will be in the book, but will be woven in as backstory. I’m guessing that about one-third of my story will be in the trash can (sadly), but it will conform to my style more so it won’t break my contract with readers.
This will be the first time I’ve done such a major overhaul on one of my stories. Thus far, I’ve only felt that they needed heavy edits to what is there. This will basically keep the whole story, but change the timeline and the way it is portrayed.
Have you ever completely overhauled a manuscript? Any hints on how to go about it? Words of wisdom or encouragement?