When I was preparing for my author reading at Atomacon this weekend, I decided to read several chapters out loud in advance to determine which would sound the best. While I was pleased with two of them, I quickly discovered that my lingering reservations about a particular chapter had merit. The narrative was uninteresting with much of the necessary exposition covered elsewhere.
Once I took scissors to my precious baby, the dam broke. Since its release in May, Salvaging the Beast has gotten a lot of praise, but the constructive criticism of an unknown reviewer has haunted me, in particular because I already knew, deep down, that certain things were mistakes. The most aggravating was that my first chapter did not really hook the reader, in my opinion. It slowly warmed up the story with background information, and did little else. Furthermore, my use of shifting timelines and flashbacks had proven to be confusing to some readers.
To be fair to myself, I published the first edition less than a month before my dad passed away. I can see how much my judgement was affected by the stress and grief of that time.
I have just finished a draft of this proposed second edition. The novella has been shaved down to 25,000 words from the 35,000 of the original release. Much was tossed away completely, with a lot more pulled out only to be used later in the series. The remaining material has been rearranged a little, with some lines altered to compensate for the modifications. I’m having a few readers look at it to see how this cut has turned out.
Those who have read the first edition, do not be alarmed. Nothing was added to the second edition. You won’t have to read the book again to proceed in the series. You will, however, be a little confused in later books when you find yourself reading certain passages and whole chapters you’ve read before. On the plus side, you are privy to some background material a little earlier than everyone else.
I feel great relief now that I’ve given myself permission to clean things up and fix what has been nagging at me. It is my firm belief that the book and the series as a whole will benefit from this radical and unorthodox decision.