I’ve been having a think about this book, and it concerns the structure. Originally I intended for the first half of this book to be written in the formal/first person and the second to be less formal/third person. But I’ve realised that’s going to be a bit jarring for the reader. So there needs to be a solution of sorts.
- The first solution is to keep the book as it is and see what it’s like when I get to the end. But that’s a bit lazy and if it doesn’t work I’ll have wasted a lot of time.
- The second is to imitate the first half but with a different character. This works better but it creates a further problem in the actual split itself. By changing the narrator I’m effectively making parts of the first half of the book almost trivial to the second. There would be too much extraneous detail and I think that would ruin the narrative thread and make it equally jarring for the reader.
- The third solution is by far the one that blows everything apart, but in a good way, kind of. Instead of being one book it would be two, with the first book concentrating on Charlie with the rejigged narrative from the original version making up the second book…
I’m sort of leaning towards the third idea at the moment, as much of what has been written has become somewhat superfluous to the main idea. The first part was meant to be a lot quicker and pacier than it currently is, acting as a lead in to the main events in the second half, those that were to be formed out of the ashes of the original book. I never intended to go into all the extraneous bits about Towcester and Charlie’s friends and childhood etc. It just kind of happened that way. All this part was meant to be very brief and it hasn’t been, but I am liking what’s already been written and it seems to me to have the making of a good book.
But there is a question here. Why can’t I just have Charlie narrate the whole thing? There is a very simple reason and it’s to do with the way the second half pans out. There is a really important character in the second part who needs to do something equally important and the trouble is that it’s at a point that makes it impossible for Charlie to be there. I could still have Charlie narrate but I’ve already done the absent, first person narrator thing with Dark Legend and I want this book to be very different from that one. There is another reason as well but to tell you I would have to spoil the book and I don’t really want to do that just yet.
The other bonus is that this is already turning into a very different book and, looking at it, the second half would kind of spoil the first when put together as a single book. The plot would be too heavy and the way things are right now, most of the characters in the first half have little or no impact/interaction on the characters in the second, which was one of the major problems in the original version. Almost all of the characters from the start were dead by the mid point. So to do that would defy the point of the rewrite. Two books would at least let me ease that problem.
This of course means lengthening the first half considerably, coming up with some new ideas to fill it out and making it more cohesive so that it will be able to stand on its own two feet. Already I’ve thought of a brilliant way of doing this and the best part is that it’s something that was already in the book, only it happened ‘off-page’. But if I change things slightly so that Charlie witnesses the events… It makes the book better as I don’t have to have someone explain the events later on… I can show them happening.
And it ties in beautifully with the whole idea of the book- British Fascists. They were the primary villains of the original book and their formation was never something that I went into detail about. It was just something that the reader was led to have assumed happened. They were just there and concocting their evil schemes. But now that I actually have the opportunity to go into details about it I’d be stupid not to.
My idea is very simple. At some point in the early thirties (I’m thinking maybe 1931/32) the fascist organisation (who are simply named as such atm) turn up in Towcester and try to recruit people to their cause. Inevitably, there are going to be some shallow minded individuals who blindly follow and sign up to become indoctrinated. I already know the identity of at least two individuals involved and one of those will have a big impact on Charlie. Charlie on the other hand is going to be shaped by this. He’s going to react against what’s happening and it’s going to pit him squarely against the fascists…
And again, this provides a better impetus for Charlie’s involvement in the whole plot. The entire book begins to now wrap around him like a glove, filtering through every orifice until it consumes him entirely. And it makes for a better story overall. Originally the plan was for Charlie to be recruited to fight against the fascist group because he knew some of the people involved. The new version is that he signs himself up because he wants to fight them on his own terms, because of what he sees in Towcester as a kid.
This arrival of the fascists means I can introduce the ‘big baddie’ of the entire Morfasson Saga far earlier than before. Initially he only appeared in the last few sentences of the original book and then again towards the end of the second Morfasson book (which will also be redrafted one day, but again the appearance in that book was brief.) I think he’s going to be there when the fascists turn up in Towcester, although it won’t be revealed that it’s actually him just yet. Another point is that the ‘big baddie’ isn’t actually going to be named until the very last book. That is going to stick, I think. It helps add an air of mystery, which you really need to make a villain work properly.
But in all, this is only going to add the equivalent of about two extra chapters to the first half. So I do need a lot more expansion. And it’s got to be expanded in the right way. It’s got to be expansion that works within the plot and develops the characters. It needs to be relevant, it needs to work and it all needs to lead into the newly created second book. I already have the basic framework laid out from the way the book was originally. All I have to do is build upon that framework. And maybe Charlie’s childhood holds some answers…
I also suppose I’m going to have to come up with a new name for one of the books… Definitely the first because that’s where all the new material is… Something simple… A little bit old fashioned… And I think I have just the title: Charlie Fuller.