And One Became Two #IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of June. JUNE! We have this month and the year will be half over.

What makes me an insecure writer today? The same thing that’s been plaguing me for flippin’ years! Book 2. Or should I say Book 2, divided by 2?

Critique partners are amazing. I love them. I have become a much better writer because of them. And sometimes, their comments trigger a landslide.

After reading the first set of Book 2 chapters, a trusted CP mentioned “lots of plot”. My knee-jerk reaction was to go into all my justifications for the events contained within the pages. But the reasonable writer within me took a step back to examine the information.

The problem is this guy to the left. His subplot doesn’t relate to the main plot. Like, at all. The events are necessary for future books, but they have nothing to do with fighting the monsters. That has to be bad for the reader experience, right?

*internal screaming*

As I melted down into panic mode, I scrambled to figure out what to do. Do I ignore the problem and just finish my rewrites? I wouldn’t be truly happy with it because I would know the problem exists. But I have no way to relate the events of this subplot to the monsters.

The solution I landed with is to revive the subplot I decided to cut in March 2020. The problem I was addressing then was how the first half and second half of the character’s story didn’t relate, so I trashed the first half and expanded the second half because the latter had characters that are necessary for future books. Seemed logical at the time. But the first half is better suited to relate to the main plot.

What about the subplot I’m cutting? Because those characters and events are still necessary, I’m going to have to put them somewhere. That means I’m adding another book.

My 5 book series has expanded to 6 books, and I’m going to have to stop thinking about book 3 as book 3. I also have to move book covers around and think up another made-up word to fall in with the other titles. Everything is a mess.

I’m resigned to do the work, and I was at least smart enough to keep previous completed versions of my book around.

IWSG Question of the Month – For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

Given my experience with Book 2, I’d say I don’t shelve it at all. I start re-drafting almost as soon as I recognize the problems.

Have you ever read a book where one of the subplots didn’t relate to the main plot? How was your experience with that? Have you ever split a book in two?

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Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

29 thoughts on “And One Became Two #IWSG

  1. I’ve never split a book myself, but it happens all the time. Sometimes you just have too much material for a single book. And hey, that’s a good thing! That means you’ll get TWO books out in the near future instead of one!

    (I know “near” is a relative term, but still. Sooner than having to write that next book from scratch)

    Keep plugging! It’s coming together!

  2. Sound advice, and sorry about the panic and rewrites but you’ve got this now. (I don’t think you’ll go for this but lots of authors have a 1.5 or 2.5 book that’s a bit shorter and has a subplot like this in it.) *shrug* Just something to think about. Happy June!

    • I’m reluctant to make it a 2.5 (though I considered it when I made the decision) because I’ve got a 3.5 (which I suppose will be a 4.5 now), and the way I distinguish it is that it has nothing to do with Derek or the niniers, which is what this series is about. That’s not the case with this new book I’m adding. We’ll have to see what the final length is though. If it’s half the length of all the others books, then I might need to figure out something.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Ah. Well, as far as having more than one “.5”, many authors have that. The only ones I can think of off the top of my head write YA (not that that matters). But, if the 3.5/4.5 book has nothing to do with Derek…that would give me pause, too.

        You know your series best but think about unconventional ideas. Authors have the .5, a novella in the midst of a longer series, or even a collection of short stories about the characters in the middle of book x and book y. Not that you’d do that last one, I’m just throwing that at you. Duck.

  3. Sounds like a good thing–you have more content than one book can hold. Here’s to book #6!

  4. I decided to publish Journey Through a Dark Forest, the third book with my Russian-born characters, as one book in four volumes (not four separate books), since it was way too long for a single book even by my doorstopping standards. I’ll also be publishing the fourth book, A Dream Deferred, in four volumes, since it took sprawled way more than I expected.

    I also chose to publish And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away and And the Lark Arose from Sullen Earth as two separate books, instead of making it all one book. Each has its own focus, and the most perfect ending opened up in the first book.

  5. When I find a subplot that doesn’t fit the main plotline in my novel, I cut it and use it elsewhere. You don’t need another novel. You can write a short story or a novella out of the cut material and give it for free to your readers as a prequel of sorts, or what the other writers call a ‘X.5’ story.

  6. Jennifer Lee Hawes

    I’ve never split a book into two, because I’m an “under” writer. I don’t write much at first. Just getting the idea and plot points down. But I can see how that would make total sense! It may just be what you need:)

  7. You sound like me when I was advised to change the name of one of my supporting characters in my first novel. I resisted it then called him by his old name for weeks. I can’t think of him as anything but Walter now. That said, I was eternally grateful for Word’s ‘search and replace all.’ 😀 I wish dividing books was that easy.

  8. That wiped me out just reading it. Deep breath – you can do it!

  9. It would be interesting to take a poll to find out what percentage of authors immediately revise the first draft or put it aside for a while. I’m in the latter group.

  10. Hey, I never throw anything out. I never know when I’m going to change my mind and decide to reuse a previous version of a scene.

  11. I love it that you added another book. That would be my solution too. Happy Writing.

  12. And that is why I save all of my draft versions – just in case I decide the first version was better than the 10th. 🤣

    At this point, you’ve got a saga going – what’s one more book! You’ll be fine. Plus, think of all the extra art work you can do. It’ll be awesome!

  13. Phew–reading that gave ME anxiety! It’s always a huge blow to realize something major needs to be changed, but you know the story will be better off in the long run for it.

  14. Anna

    I’ve read books that have a supporting cast that comes and goes depending on the book. JD Robb does it in her ‘in Death’ series. For example, Mavis is Eve’s best friend, but she is not in every book. She pops in and out of the series. The arc is there because Mavis goes from rock star, to wife and rock star, to wife, mother and rock star. Each book she’s in tells us where her life is now.

    Hope that helps. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  15. That’s great that you figured out a solution even if it means writing another book in a series. One thought I had before you mentioned it was to suggest you just introduce this character in a later book in the series closer to when their impact on the plot will matter. I think writers who write fantasies do this sometimes. Or maybe a character has a small role in book 1 and 2 but later on becomes an important character. Just a thought.

  16. Splitting the books apart sounds like the best solution. I have read books with disparate subplots, but those always tie into the main plot somewhere near the end. If your character doesn’t connect in this book, it sounds like he totally needs a book of his own. I bet you’ll find that you have more than enough story for it. More books is a good thing.

  17. More books is always a good thing. 🙂

    The book I am working on right now was not meant to be a book. But a beta reader was intrigued by a minor character and wanted to know more about his story. That has presented me with some problems in that he’s not your typical hero, but that has also been fun, writing a character who doesn’t quite fit the mold. So, I guess I’m saying it’s a good thing to carve a bit of one book out to make another.

  18. Joleene Naylor

    I had to cut my first two books into four books, and I honestly think it’s better that way, so you probably need the sixth book, too! 😉

  19. Cathrina

    My very first book was well over 100k. I dropped that book down to 85k and then made book 2. Then I started a prequel which was only going to be a novella and it turned into a full fledged novel.

    You are truly lucky to have wonderful critique partners!!

  20. I know you feel like it’s a mess, but it’s not! It’s an opportunity to reeeaaallllyyyy stretch those creative legs! I’m actually excited for you. Things are coming together now that you have a plan, and see what needs to be done. Woop!!

  21. I have a few stories that I’ve split up into their own stories. It happens.

  22. Holy Moly! But at least you know you need a new book (big grin, trying to be encouraging). I haven’t experienced the split off book need yet.

  23. Because of issues with subplots, I just started wondering yesterday if I maybe needed to split my current WIP (book 3, coincidently enough) into two books. No decision has been made yet, but I have formed an exploratory committee or whatever to see what that might mean and/or look like.

    I reaaaaaaaaaally don’t want to add another book to this series, but if that’s what’s best for the story, then I’ll suck it up and get it done. Eventually…

  24. Hi, I can’t think of a book where the subplot didn’t relate to the main plot. Though I’ve read some books where the plot is all over the place.

  25. Hi Loni! Getting another book in the series can’t be altogether bad, even though it means more work than you thought lay ahead. I know when writing a series, the studious (or super clever ones) have a masterplan, but sometimes things happen to disrupt. Go with it. You can do it.

  26. It may be a mess, but to me it sounds as though you have everything under control. Happy Writing!

  27. You’ve got no shortage of material, which I’d say is a positive. My problem sometimes is sticking to the main plot and having a lack of interesting subplots. It sounds like you have a plan in place, which is great.

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