So, what else have I learned this last year?
It is interesting to note many serial works get bigger as they progress. I mean – just look at the first Harry Potter compared to the so-big-it needs-two-films finale. I too have produced a second book some 20% longer than the first volume. Now, this isn’t too bad as “Death of the Elver Man” was only about 86,000 words – a bit short for commercial fiction according to some experts so “The Drowners“, weighing in at 106,000, is spot on. However, I am keeping a very close eye on the process and am determined not to get too indulgent or start slipping into flabby writing. It is understandable there is some spread. “The Drowners” has a wider cast of characters and a lot of the originals are there too so they add more dialogue, action and emotion to the story but I’m keeping it all reasonably compact, I hope.
On Monday I was invited to talk to a forum in town and one man complained that a lot of novelists had too many characters.
“Even Charles Dickens”, he said, accompanied by a nodding of heads from the audience. “There are so many names I can’t keep track of them so I just put the book down and don’t bother”.
There’s an important lesson here I think. I’ve tackled it by keeping the central cast quite small and focusing on different characters in each book. The minor characters will have a chance to step forward and tell their stories, one or two at a time.
At least – that’s the theory.