It’s been a long year and a half of writing and re-writing my first novel. Longer still if you count when I initially conceived the story and the various attempts at writing it. The Lost Door went from being a screenplay to a television mini-series to 5-part novella series to a novel.
The original concept was big. It involved four major characters whose lives ultimately intersect, but why they intersect is because of an event that happened over fifty years earlier. The story never gelled properly for a 120-page screenplay, so that’s when I thought about doing it as a mini-series. The first four parts would focus on one of the characters while the fifth would bring it all together.
It was around that time I spoke with a friend who works in LA and bounced the idea of him to get ideas on how to proceed. His recommendation? Write it as a book. “If you happen to sell your screenplay,” he said, “expect next to no pay unless it gets made. More than likely it will end up in a drawer, and you’ll never see it again. Are you okay with that? If not then write it as a book.”
I didn’t want to spend a year working on something only to have it end up in a drawer, so I set out to write it as a series of novellas instead. After finishing the first one I gave it to two friends for comments. Their feedback solidified my fears that the story meandered, and I knew then that the subplots of each story would have to go. Not only did they not add to the main plot, but they also padded an already complex story.
That was a blessing though. If I could cut out subplots then what was becoming an exceptionally long book would be wrangled to something more manageable. I could also make it a standalone novel as opposed to a series of novellas.
The first draft was still long at 120k words. (For those unfamiliar most books average 80k-90k.) Two revisions later I got it down to 92k, still a little long but not so bad it would will bog the story down.
This third draft is now in the hands of a trusted few to give me feedback and notes. So while I wait what’s next? I have a sci-fi novel outlined that I plan to work on next. That, too, started as a screenplay. I love its concept and the characters and can’t wait to start exploring that world.
This long journey is nearing an end and I couldn’t be happier. Having these characters and stories in my head for so long (8 years and counting) it will be nice to finally put them to rest.