Those of you who have been with us for a little while may recall that in early 2018, Steve and I threw away the first 70,000 words of a Liaden novel titled Accepting the Lance. It was not an easy decision — it’s never an easy decision to throw out so many words — not even bad words, merely not the right words.
The way Steve and I work is that one of us is lead on each particular title — and we do swap off. The person who is lead on the project currently in hand has what is in essence a third vote, to be cast in case of a tie in case of a creative disagreement.
I was lead on Lance, and the . . . error is mine to own, the book died in my hands. I brought the cooling corpse to Steve and asked him to read it, in case it wasn’t really dead, but only resting, because I had taken a minor wrong turn in direction. Sadly, his verdict was the same as mine: It’s dead, Jim.
So, we did what we had to — we pitched those words, contacted Madame at Baen to report the death, and asked for a new delivery date, which she graciously provided.
And we started over. I was once again lead; I flatter myself that this time I got it right. Accepting the Lance, the Correct Edition, was published by Baen in December 2019.
Now, there’s a Sekrit Thing that authors do — or rather, that we don’t do — when a book dies and we “throw it out,” and that is — we don’t delete the wrong words. Good Ghod, no. Because — you never know. You never know when a scene in the wrong book will slot into the new book, and be Just The Thing.
Which is what happened with Accepting the Lance. Several scenes in The Wrong Lance will seem familiar to readers of the published novel. The scenes are included in the outtake because we wanted those reading along at home to have the Entire Experience of what it feels like when a narrative is rolling right along — and then drops in its tracks.
Now, I don’t want to say too much in this introduction — I don’t, let us say, want to spoil the experience of The Wrong Lance for you. I will say, however, that one of the reasons I identified later, which led to the story off-railing, is that I tried to continue the narrative directly from the last scene of Neogenesis. There’s a tradition, see; people expect certain things from books written in series, such as direct sequels starting in certain places. I really felt pressured by this expectation, so I forced myself to start in the traditional way. This was, in retrospect, A Mistake.
Those who have read Accepting the Lance will note that I did not make that Mistake a second time. This allowed me to have access to pieces of the real story that I had turned my back on by starting in the Wrong Place.
. . .and I think that’s enough to get us started. I hope that this exercise provides entertainment, and enlightenment. That’s putting a lot on an outtake from a failed novel, but, really, the words are perfectly good, even if they’re not canon.
To review, there are 11 chapters in The Wrong Lance, about 44,000 words. Chapter One will post next Monday, June 1, for Patrons Only on Patreon, and on Splinter Universe. For those coming in late, here’s a link to the Things You Need to Know about this project.
’til next week, then.
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