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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"8 Days": Heart-Stopping Moments

Not for the reader.  For me.

Most recently, I realized I didn't do something way back when I first came up with the title.  I didn't Google it.


Imagine my shock when I saw that there were a few 8 Days things out there already.  A movie, a book ...  I panicked for about ten minutes and thought about Eight Days.  Yep, already taken, too.  What about 7 Days or Seven Days?  Of course, those are taken.  What about 9 Days or Nine Days or 10 Days or Ten Days?  Of course they were all gone, too.

Yes, I was considering a rewrite to adjust the number of days.  Once I saw that there was no way to get a title of X Days that hadn't already been taken, I talked myself off the ledge and decided to just leave things be.

The bigger cardiac arrest I had once I finished my first readthrough of the book.  I was done typing, it was organized like I originally planned, ... I thought things were A-OK.

I hated it.

Man, that was rough.  I spent a few months writing and writing and I ended up with 65,000+ words that I just didn't care for.  I had a mild panic attack.  I thought about shelving it and moving on to my "Night at the Museum" idea.  Then I decided to sit down and examine what, exactly, wasn't working.

Originally, the structure was more character focused and not chronological.  It made sense from a storytelling perspective to keep the attention on the core characters for longer stretches of time because, I thought at the time, that they would be lost in the anthologized shuffle if I did things chronologically.

For example, Chapter 1 was random character, 2 was character A, 3 was B, 4 was C, 5 was D, 6 went back to a random character, and then 7 went back to A, and so on.  (It makes more sense when you read it.)  Even though it generally followed a chronological story, the characters were separated from each other in the own islands of story.  Again, for the characters themselves, it made more sense to tell their stories across multiple days in one chapter.

Reading it, however, it made less sense.  It was wholly unsatisfying.  And deflating for me, the writer.

Well, I thought, let me try organizing it day-by-day instead of by character.  Almost immediately I felt the difference in reading it.  Isolating the characters in their own chapters made sense from one perspective, but that isolation didn't always make them feel like they were in the same world.  By mixing them up and structuring things by chronology, I got characters near each other (in the narrative sense) that never were before, which helped provide some interesting contrasts.

There were a few gaps in storytelling that I noticed in the chronology version that I didn't notice before, so I wrote some new sections, bringing the word count up to near 75,000.

I'm happy to say I like 8 Days now.  It's a much better book thanks to me hating it before.

Look for its release on Friday, October 30.

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