Should books have versions?

You know, like software.

It’s unrealistic for paper-based books, obviously. Also, for successful ebooks why would you bother? If enough people have bought/downloaded the book then a writer is better off producing more content.

Cover1However, what if the writer is an independent author and not too many copies have been sold? (How many is “not too many”?).

Independent authors don’t have the luxury of skilled editors. They have friends and others who may or may not be the best ones to offer skilled advice.

I think, yes. If the ideas are strong enough.

I’ve begun re-writing all my books in the ‘Gods” series as Version 2.0’s. I’ve had better ideas for the overall story-lines and ideas about better defining the characters. These ideas allow the novels to become a coherent series.

Many of my readers have commented how they like the books/stories/characters but have mentioned disappointments in them and have offered suggestions for improvement. Many I agree with! I wish I’d had the benefit of a “real” editor but I didn’t.

In my first attempt to produce a series of books I wrote them with beginnings and finished in the middle. There was no end. I had my mind on the final ending of the series and each book sort of, well, just stopped at a convenient place in the narrative (often dictated by word count).

This was a rookie mistake.

It worked for me, I knew where the stories were going, but it most certainly did not work for readers. It was frustrating to have a story halt, almost arbitrarily.

So… The version 2.0’s of each book will have real endings, so a reader can just read one, if they wish and have a complete story-telling experience.

Let’s see how this goes. My apologies to those readers who liked the original books but, unfortunately, there just weren’t enough of you. And I firmly believe the series story is just too good to leave and write something different from scratch.

Forgive me! But I hope you like it.

 

Posted March 21, 2013 by Mark in Books & Writing

The Speculative Fiction writer’s solution for necessary violence

The problem of necessary violence can arise in story-telling. Death occurs, people are maliciously injured, races of people are destroyed. And violence of some description is expected when a principal character in fiction is a god. Or, at least, a being powerful enough to destroy a world. Destroying the world is a fairly violent act on anyone’s scale.

I required a god for the At the End of World series of novels, based on the Mayan end of world scenarios. There are some obvious problems that arise.

I required a god interested in the lesser beings and interesting in their own right. And someone that made mistakes since rectification and resolution are important to interesting story telling. I could create a believable character with those attributes but what to do about necessary violence? A god of sufficient intelligence should get no pleasure from terminal violence, like most of us get no pleasure from squashing an ant.

However, sometimes, an ant needs to be squashed.

What to do?

My solution to the problem was that my god could erase individuals, groups, races and species. It may be possible with sufficient technology, a large power source and a bit of stretched imagination. The god would be able to remove all traces and the effects of an individual, a group, a race and even a species. It would be as if they had never existed. So, no suffering is caused (as long as annihilation is instantaneous), no lingering anxiety, no memories for those that are not erased, just nothing.

It would be the same effect as if your parents never procreated. You never existed for everyone who knew you.

Would you need a large power source for that? Would you need an understanding of physics we don’t have yet? Of course. But it’s a story, let’s not let the current state of science and technology get in the way of our imagination.

Ok.

We then run into the problem of fallibility. No-one is devoid of mistakes. Especially my god, who is just a powerful being with awesome technology and an understanding of higher physics.

Then the thunderbolt struck. Erasure mistakes, in response to necessary violence, would be brilliant! It allowed my god to re-make human species and races multiple times and then erase them when dissatisfied. However, leaving imperfect traces in the archaeological and paleontological record.

No inhabitants of the Americas before approximately 15,000 years ago? Why not? Erased, that’s why not.

Multiple modern-human migrations out of Africa before the most recent approximately 70,000 years ago? Why not? And some might have reached the Americas only to be, you guessed it, erased.

Multiple human species with scant traces? Floresiensis, Denisovan, etc, not a problem. Each a work in progress imperfectly erased.

Necessary, terminal violence without suffering, without revenge. This god would be a Speculative Fiction author’s perfect answer to alternate history. Except it wouldn’t be alternate. It happened but was removed imperfectly, leaving many story lines based on scant traces.

On an individual level, erasure seems an elegant solution to a god’s necessary punishment of wrongdoers or removal of imperfect experimentation. We all know or know of (even if only through news reports) someone who may deserve death, but not necessarily the suffering associated with the end of life (no matter how deserving of termination they may appear). And, the loathed one’s loved ones do not necessarily deserve to suffer because of association.

Think about it. If you had that power, and you were intelligent, and violence was necessary, erasure would solve many issues. Intelligence does not require revenge.

And what if the powerful being was innocuous and lived among us? What if they were the person close by as you’re reading this? The person who suddenly appears quite annoyed that you’re looking at them.

At least you, and your loved ones, will not suffer!

Posted December 17, 2011 by Mark in Books & Writing