Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jack of All Trades - Writing Freak Out 2

The way that I'm doing this novel is different from the previous ones.  I've already mentioned the more historical element as opposed to the fictional one.  Then there's the fact that whereas before, I was more interested in what Holmes's thoughts would be, and how he was handling the things coming at him, now I'm more interested in sitting back and observing his actions through Erik's or Watson's eyes.

This novel is made up of three narrators and then third person POV's of the murders.  Watson and Erik have the majority, but Holmes will narrate about three, maybe four, short segments.  One of which is the reveal for who Jack the Ripper is.  I imagined this in his perspective the first time I wrote a draft of it, and honestly, I can't picture it being in anyone else's perspective but his.

My issue now, though, is that I worry about it being too short.  I'm hand writing it first before I sit down and type it, and I'm already up to the double murder night, and I'm only on page 56 or thereabouts.  Fifty-six?!  I admit, when I transfer it to typed page and then it gets reformatted to what the page size is for MX, I may be pleasantly surprised, but it still seems very short right now to me.  And considering I felt this was gonna be one of the longer ones, that's not good!

I know, I know.  It doesn't matter how long or short something is.  If a book is five hundred pages, but it's five hundred pages of crap, the book sucks and people will hate it.  If it's a hundred pages, but it's a hundred pages of good, quality material, people will love it and appreciate it even in its shortness.

And I will admit, I still have to get through the double murder, Watson's issues, Erik's issues (which is what I'll handle after the third person perspective of the double murders,) different parts with Holmes, Watson determining that he's angry enough at his situations that he wants to pour over Holmes's notes and file on these killings and discover who the Ripper is himself, the half a kidney in the mail and the letters coming in, all supposedly from 'Jack,' which means I'll have to do another third person perspective part where 'Jack' is actually writing the 'From Hell' letter that mentions the kidney, Mary Kelly's murder, then there's the reveal itself and the repercussions that has on all the characters, the resolution of Erik's situation and his feelings about that clouding his mind so that he didn't see clues to help Holmes solve this sooner, then Mycroft--

Well, can't give that part away.  You'll have to read to find out what I'm doing there.

I guess I shouldn't worry so much about it being too short right now.  I have a lot more to cover in the month and a week between the night of the double murder and Mary Kelly's murder.  Then there's wrapping everything up after Mary Kelly's murder, and including Holmes's file on the killings, which is going to be at the end of the book.

I admit, I could have done a better job on Rendezvous.  And should have.  I just felt the lines from the musical were so perfect, it was hard not to write those exact lines down.  And I suppose I had too much of an influence from Angel of the Opera by Sam Siciliano, because I more or less modeled my Raoul after his.  I stepped it up with I Will Find the Answer, though.  Luckily, to my knowledge, anyway, there are no Jekyll and Hyde/Holmes stories where Holmes is dealing with the play version of Jekyll, therefore including Emma Carew and Lucy.  I had to truly mold my own version if I wanted to fit Jekyll's fiancee and the Unfortunate who draws him, and therefore Hyde, into her life.  I did model it somewhat after the book, because in Stevenson's novel, Sir Danvers Carew is the only man killed, and the deed is done with Jekyll's cane.

I raised the bar for myself when I wrote I Will Find the Answer.  I only hope that Jack of All Trades raises the bar even further.  I want it to be the best one yet.  I want people coming away from this novel, hungry for more.  Saying, "Damn . . .  God, I can't wait for the next one!"

Because, let's face it.  For the next one, I'll have to raise the bar even more.  And despite these little freak-outs on my blog, I will rise to that challenge.


  1. Oh, man. You're really whetting my appetite for Jack of All Trades! It sounds like it's going to be intense.

    About Raoul - while he could have been a bit more rounded out, at least your Raoul wasn't such an annoying whiner. He was willing to take action on his own and didn't complain to everybody within earshot how Christine is a whoring temptress who's been lying about her love for him. Siciliano made him more of a puppy, which, while not totally out of jibe with Leroux's character, didn't get me the least bit invested in him.

    Out of curiosity, have you read any other Holmes/Phantom crossovers?

    1. Well, on the upside, Raoul has the chance to redeem himself.

      Actually no, I haven't read any other Holmes/Phantom crossovers. Or, I should say, the other two crossovers. I only learned about the Canary Trainer within the past eight months or so, and the only version of the comic I can find is on Barnes and Noble Nook, and I have a Kindle.

      I'd like to get Canary Trainer, though. I've heard mixed reviews of it, but it's Sherlock Holmes and Phantom, so, yeah. I want to own it.

      I will say one thing. The more I write on Holmes, the less happy I am about Rendezvous. When I'm done with the fifth book in this series, I'm going to rewrite Rendezvous. I'm not sure if I'll keep the same plot that I have, with Holmes getting injured, or if I'll do the as-true-to-the-Canon as possible Holmes.

    2. I suppose that's true. It's just interesting to think about how Raoul is the hero in the original novel, but his place is supplanted by Holmes and diminished by a more humane Erik in Siciliano's novel. I should reread it, though. It's a been a long while.

      I've still got to get my hands on the comic. Seems like that story is more of a Watson-meeting-Erik scenario, in the sense that they're the characters who end up connecting on a deeper level. Odd, but not uninteresting. :) Canary Trainer feels more like a Holmes story, and the Phantom is more a threatening villain instead of an anti-hero. Meyer makes some changes to the details of the Phantom story, but you can tell he did a TON of research and knows both canons very well.

      Don't be discouraged about Rendezvous - there are many elements I really enjoy, particularly Holmes' injury and how he deals with it. But a novel with a true-to-canon-as-possible Holmes meeting a true-to-canon-as-possible Erik in the correct timeline would be wonderful. It means their meeting would predate Watson's first appearance, and it'd be great to see how that fact affects their interaction. Holmes would be a young man just setting out on his career (or so I imagine), and Erik would be about twenty years his senior and have a leg up in age and experience.

      For your novel, though, I think Holmes' injury makes your crossover stand out among the others. Siciliano's Holmes is a bit different from canon because a character other than Watson is narrating. Meyer's Holmes differs because 1) of what happened in the Seven Percent Solution and 2) he's in a new place without his usual resources and dealing with Irene Adler at the same time. Having Holmes injured is a simple, unique and visceral way of placing him outside his comfort zone without excluding Watson from the proceedings or changing much of the back story. It also makes his rise to the challenge against both Erik and his injury more inspiring and plain awesome.

    3. Ah, I didn't mean Raoul has the chance to redeem himself in Rendezvous. He gets another chance later on... :)

      I'm not so discouraged about Rendezvous, I'm... I don't know, it's difficult to explain. I love the book, I love that I sat down and wrote it, I love what I came up with for what happens to Holmes... But I want to do more with it.

      I guess I'll be kind of like Robin McKinley. She wrote two different Beauty and the Beast retellings, twenty years apart!