With Echoes out on the digital shelves, I turned my attention to completing the revision of offering number two–That Zombie Story, better known as Grave New World.
It was a bit of a jolt. Echoes was written in more descriptive prose than I usually try, and had a sort of dreamy quality to it. GNW is darker, grittier, and moves a lot faster. The plot and characters are also much older, dating back to 2006, so while it was easy enough to slide back into Vibeke’s narrative, I had a lot of reworking ahead of me.
My two big challenges in converting The Evil That Men Do into a quartet of novellas were finding the natural break points and ratcheting up the tension.
Well, there was that whole rewriting thing…but that’s another post.
The first break point was easy enough to find–the epidemic breaks out. That left me with tension. In the original draft, Vibeke, Tony, and Dax are sitting around for several months waiting for a rescue that doesn’t come, and are finally forced to move when the city burns down. I mixed in the arrival of the undead with the fire.
I wanted Grave New World to be more zombie-centric, so on that end I had to cut out a huge chunk of story…and somehow cram all the character development that came with it into a much faster-paced plot. I handled this in three ways:
- Is it utterly necessary? No? Cut it out entirely.
- Is this something you can express through dialogue? (Condensed an entire paragraph of Vibeke’s heritage into two lines: “Were your parents hippies?” “No, just Norwegian.”
- Can it be expressed through action? (Dax originally declared his reluctance to hurt people in a speech; I cut that and made him hesitate during a firefight.)