What I am about to say doesn't come easy for me; I've been at this now for almost three years, and I can honestly say that this is the first time I've ever done what I finally decided to do today. I have abandoned an Alamo novel. Now, I'm not talking about simply starting over; I've done that on a few occasions, stopped a book and started for scratch, taking a different angle on it, but I always kept the same basic plot idea, the same concept, perhaps just adding or subtracting elements to make things more interesting, speed up the plot. This time, however, I have abandoned work on the current version of 'Triple-Edged Sword' – already on its third draft, indeed – and will be starting over on a new book with the same title.
This book has been sheer torture to write, and over the course of January, I wrote about eighty-five thousand words – and am currently at around the fifty-thousand word mark, giving you an idea of the amount of 'lost material' that I've already generated for this one. Theoretically, I could finish this book with three or four hard days writing, get it completed, but I'm not going to do it. Frankly – it just doesn't work. The plot doesn't hang together, the characters are being dragged around, and the setting isn't engaging in the slightest. And if I find it so – imagine what this turkey would be like to read!
As far as I'm concerned, I have a responsibility to those who read my books to produce the best book I can possibly write. I won't, I can't just 'go through the numbers' with an Alamo work. It means too much to me, the characters and the setting that have evolved over a million words of material. You have the right to expect that I will do the best I possibly can, and this book just isn't it. I suppose I could go back over it, patch it up, but at the end of the day there just isn't sufficient material to make that work. I'd have to do another full line-rewrite, and at this point I might as well start over with something new.
On the off-chance that I do something else with the material in the future, perhaps salvage elements of it for future books, I won't go into too many details here, but suffice to say that it was to be set on Thule, and serve as a sequel to 'Cage of Gold'. The problem is that I didn't leave enough planet-specific loose ends to provide what I consider a satisfactory second plot on that world. Certainly I could set something else on the planet, but not the thematic sequel that I had planned. I'm not saying that I would never return to this world, but not this time. Instead, I'll be going over events from Thule at the start of the book, as an introduction to the long-term plot I have been working to introduce. Alamo is going out into unexplored space, and it is doing it right away; by Chapter Two, it will be on its voyage under its new commander.
This is not as serious a blow as it might first seem, for two reasons. The first is that I already have another plot worked out; this simply means advancing the book that would have been Alamo 18 to instead take Alamo 17's place. If anything, the title 'Triple-Edged Sword' actually works better for this one, to the point that I had seriously been considering switching the titles anyway. As a result, I'll be able to start work on the new book on Wednesday, and I have every expectation of meeting the scheduled release date of February 29th as planned. In all honesty, I seem to work better with tight deadlines anyway!
The second is the most important of all. You always learn a lot more from failure than you ever do from success, and this has been a hell of a learning experience for me. I know what to avoid in future books, what doesn't work for me, and where I need to concentrate in the future. That's something, hopefully, that will pay off in future books. As to the many, many words that I have already written, I actually don't know at the moment. Likely there are some bits and pieces I will extract at some point, as there were some scenes I was legitimately proud of, and might well end up using in future books. The battle sequence I had planned as an ending would have been good, I think – and I will almost certainly make use of it at some point. It is possible that I will make time to finish it at some point, but I would not consider selling it. Both because I do not consider it an example of my best work, and because very soon, it will be non-canon. Going back to this book certainly isn't a top priority, I'll put it that way, but I might do a quick job on the ending at some point, cap it off, and perhaps put it out as 'The Alamo That Might Have Been'...
And there we are, full circle. Now I guess I'd better get to work on 'Triple-Edged Sword'. Blank pages await!