The Journal: Mourning Characters, and Rewriting vs. Recasting

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* As you will see
* Topic: Mourning Characters, and Rewriting vs. Recasting
* Now it’s almost 9 a.m.
* Yesterday and today
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“It’s never too early to start something new, and it’s never too late to fix what’s broken for next time.” Wes Crowley

“WRITING A BOOK is a lonely pursuit, one that can take years of solitary work.” Kate Knibbs, a senior writer at WIRED

“Yes. Alas, writing a book is such terrible drudgery. BWAAAAAhahahahahahahahahaha!” me

As you will see, it seemed appropriate to repeat the first quote of the day for today’s edition of the Journal. The next one is just ludicrous, and the third is just me being a smartaleck.

Topic: Mourning Characters, and Rewriting vs. Recasting

Maybe interesting to note, I’m writing this topic on January 1. I had to address it before I start writing for the day. Addressing it helped purge it a little so I can go on with my life. (grin)

Have you ever killed off a character in one of you stories and then severely regretted it? I don’t mean you mourn and then the mourning fades with time, even as it does with real human beings you’ve known in real life. I mean you mourn severely and the mourning doesn’t seem to abate. Instead, it actually increases.

I have. This topic is about that and how I’ve decided to handle it.

The death of a recent main character affected me strongly, and that’s a vast understatement. In fact, that death set up a strong internal conflict. So strong that I’m certain it’s two parts of my subconscious creative mind arguing with each other.

One side is saying, naturally, “It’s just what happened. Leave it alone.” And the other side is saying, “But it shouldn’t have happened. She still had an important role to play in the story.”

Now trust me: I’ve been at this long enough to know the difference between the “sound” of my creative subconscious and the sound of my critical, conscious mind. I can say without even a shadow of a doubt that neither argument is coming from my critical conscious mind. So what to do?

Well, fortunately, that event — that death — occurred in Book 4 of the FOH series. And neither 3 nor 4 are published yet except to my first readers. And at least two of those readers were as strongly affected by the death of this character as I was (and am).

I was going to consider my options for a week or so as I finish Book 5 to consider what to do, if anything, about this anomaly. But if the character is not killed in Book 4, she might naturally affect events in the current future that is Book 5.

So I’m going to set Book 5 aside for now — it’s in a good place to be set aside, a place from which I and the characters can get a running start when we resume — and tackle recasting Book 4 from Chapter 3 forward. Then I’ll see what happens. I should add here, if this felt like “work” at all I wouldn’t be doing it. I’m excited. This will be fun.

Basically I’ll be cycling through the whole novel from the beginning. But where the character dies in the current version, she won’t die in this one — that’s the only stipulation — and the story will unfold from there. (And yes, I’ll save the new Book 4 with a different file name, probably something really clever like “Book 4 New Version” though I suspect I won’t need the old one.) I’ll document the recasting below as well as I can.

Slipping into the prophecy business for a moment, I expect much in the story will remain the same. On the other hand, I know for a fact much will necessarily be different. That’s how it is with different futures.

I’ll keep track of any new words I add each day below. Then when it’s all over I’ll subtract everything I cut and that will be the new novel. I have a side bet with myself that the new Book 4 will be shorter than the old one, but I guess we’ll see. Anyway, I’ll only count new words in the monthly and annual totals below that.

I expect this process to take no more than a few days. For that reason, for the time being, you’ll also still see “Writing of The Journey Home: Part 5” below, frozen in time on Day 5 at 18655 words.

For the record, I should make it plain here that I’m not abandoning my practice of writing into the dark, and I’m not rewriting.

Despite what many would have you believe, rewriting isn’t really writing at all. That’s the truth. Think about it. Rewriting is a kind of editing that the writer accomplishes with the critical, conscious mind, not the creative subconscious.

Recasting simply means writing into the dark on the same idea again. So it is the characters, not I, who are recasting the story. If you have any questions about that, please feel free to email me and ask.

This will be no different than those stories you see every now and then that have an ending and then one or more alternate endings. Except that this is not a whole story, but one scene in the middle of a novel. So only the final version of the novel (no alterates) will be published.

Also for the record, this is the first time I’ve ever felt compelled to deal with this issue. I’ve mourned other characters and been bothered by other events, but not to this degree or depth. And this is the first time I’ve ever even thought about cycling through and recasting most of an entire novel.

I suppose I could also put a fork in the novel. Then I’d effectively have to write two series from that point forward: one with the possible futures that evolve from the character being killed and one with the possible futures that evolve from the character NOT being killed.

But I don’t want to do that. Too lazy. Keeping up with the characters and interactions and events in one series is difficult enough. Keeping up with two series in the same world but running along alternate timelines — well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty.

In a way, I’ll be engaging in a little time travel. Everything that happens (or doesn’t happen) in the past affects every possible future one way or another. Mind boggling.

Now it’s almost 9 a.m. on January 1. I’m off for a short break. When I return, I’ll open the new Book 4 file and begin the cycling and recasting. Should be interesting to see how the story unfolds after that one major character isn’t killed. (grin) Stay tuned.

While I was on that break, my sister-in-law and eldest son decided it was time to leave. So the break extended to around an hour. Back in the Hovel and to the novel at a little after 10 a.m.

Yesterday I got up to Chapter 9. This morning I rolled out at 3, grabbed my coffee, fed my angel and came to the Hovel to post this. I’ll start on the novel again at 4.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Math is the Friend of Prolific” at

See “Zoom Book Tours…” at

See “2021 Publishing Predictions – Pandemic Reshapes Publishing, Accelerates Consolidation” at

See “Light Blogging Today” at

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1270 words

Recasting of The Journey Home: Part 4
Words brought fwd (before the death)………… 48240

Day 1…… 1735 words. Total words to date…… 49975

Writing of The Journey Home: Part 5 (novel)

Day 1…… 4179 words. Total words to date…… 4179
Day 2…… 4825 words. Total words to date…… 9004
Day 3…… 2746 words. Total words to date…… 11750
Day 4…… 4032 words. Total words to date…… 15782
Day 5…… 2873 words. Total words to date…… 18655

Total fiction words for January……… 1735
Total fiction words for the year………… 1735
Total nonfiction words for December… 2130
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 2130
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 3865

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… X
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 54
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 214
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31