A while ago, I announced a re-release of my novel Pendulum. It was the second complete first draft I ever wrote, and the first completed novel. At the time, I had a relatively solid grasp of the general craftsmanship, but I had no experience to go with it. Add to that a sense of urgency (for no reason, other than me being impatient — “my first book, yay, let’s go!”) and a rushed writing and editing process, and you end up with a novel that would have done a lot better, had I put in the time to evaluate the outline for weak plot points and edited it better.
Then came Emergent, which was a way better book in many regards, and now Synthesis, which was a massive project I now finished (I’m currently waiting for editor’s notes), and Pendulum looked less and less like what I had imagined it to be back in the day.
I have a general dislike for self-published indie author marketing strategies. Things like newsletters and “reader magnets” sound disgusting. I hate email spam and wouldn’t want to do it to anyone to promote my books, and I’m sure this might not be a smart business decision, but it keeps my integrity intact. I also don’t like to lure people into subscribing to a newsletter by offering a story written specifically for that purpose, and while I see the wisdom in doing so, I also believe that it’s unnecessary if you have other ways to accomplish the goal. And so I was thinking about it and decided to unpublish Pendulum and post it here, for free. WordPress can be subscribed to as well, but it’s more of an opt-in than an author site with nagging pop-ups that bully you into subbing just so you get rid of it. I’d also get to take the book apart and make it more fun to read.
Now that I did that, I realised I opened Pandora’s box. I analysed the outline, made changes here and there, then ended up with a completely different story, that still has the same goals and theme, the setting will be intact, and the two POV characters will be intact and mostly unchanged, but there are a lot of new plot points and conflicts. So far, I created 27 new scenes, and this is just the arc of the story playing out on the surface of the planet. I will add a completely new story arc on board the Tuatha De Danann, and that will be approximately 15 new scenes as well, maybe even 20. I don’t know yet, it’s still in active planning.
In the old storyline, the crew landed, explored the planet and searched for a place to open a permanent gate home, for colonists to move in and settle down. The primary antagonist was nature, so to say, which just didn’t do it, and all conflicts were weak. It reads more like a travelogue, and that’s just not interesting. The new story will have conflicts planetside and on board the ship. While the story down on the surface will be more sense of wonder and exploration still, the story on board will read a bit like Emergent/Synthesis, thriller and action, in a milSF setting (but not quite milSF).
What does that mean for the project, though? Will anything change?
Well, yes, and no. Not for Pendulum itself, I will start posting the scenes on February 5th, as announced. I also have the time to work out whatever feedback I’ll get on Synthesis, which is fine. But apart from that, I won’t be able to create new content, i.e. a new book. That’s bad, because I really want to expand this universe, I have a lot of ideas going forward, and in the long run, one weak book will probably not make a huge difference if the whole catalogue is good, and since these books can be read out of order, anyone who will read anything BUT Pendulum, will probably be fine. Then again… I believe it’s worth it reworking Pendulum, and as it stands, the story needs a real, proper overhaul, and I’m now equipped to do that.
As for the audiobook version as YouTube videos… yeah, maybe I’ll abstain for now. I’m really not good at that, and if there’s one thing Pendulum taught me, it’s that it’s better to do things properly, even if that means it takes longer or is more work.