Being a writer is a lot of fun. That goes without saying, right? Creating new worlds, complex characters, awesome plot twists. Yeah, it’s all fantastic fun and something I love doing.
However, despite being considered somewhat “prolific,” there are always ideas that get left behind. Whether it’s down to a change in direction, the critical voice reigning supreme over the creative voice, or a simple coming to senses, ideas within existing projects aren’t always carried out as intended.
I’m a half-plotter, half-pantser. I like to have a rough idea where I’m going with the story, but I do not like to have every scene mapped out in advance. For me, that takes ninety percent of the fun out of writing. But having a steady framework keeps me on track. Find what works for you. Every writer writes differently.
Anyway, I thought it would be pretty cool to talk about a few times when I’ve had ideas that didn’t end up materialising in my books for some reason or another. More specifically, four crazy as shit ideas. Might as well go all out on this, right?
Anyway, with no further ado, here are four crazy as shit things that almost happened in my books. Brace yourselves — they might change your opinion about one book or another.
WARNING: It goes without saying that these “almost happened’s” contain spoilers. I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but if you have not already read one of the books mentioned, you’d be best skipping over it and having a look when you’ve read. Think of it as a “deleted scene” or “bonus content” on a DVD. Nobody would watch that before they watched the film, right?
1. Killing Freedom 2 was supposed to have happened
Okay, I realise this isn’t such a bat shit crazy idea. Killing Freedom ended pretty explosively but ambiguously, after all. Jared’s fate is in question. Loose ends, although tied up, are still left dangling like threads. A Killing Freedom sequel seemed like a natural conclusion, right?
Well, yeah. Kind of. In fact, I wrote an entire Killing Freedom sequel. It’s here on my hard drive somewhere, all 82,849 words of it. The premise was simple: Jared is in prison. He survived the conclusion of Killing Freedom, but joining him in prison are a bunch of Raymond’s old goons that he ended up bringing down with him. Not to mention the fact that he’s trying to keep his crazy temper under control as these goons provoke and provoke and provoke until eventually… he snaps.
I liked the first section of this book. The prison scenes are great, and I’ll definitely revisit them one way or another some day. The rest of the book however… Hmm. I wasn’t really satisfied with it. It goes off on too many tangents. Jared meets Dwight — the guy who was up against Raymond — and Dwight hires him to learn about some group of revolutionaries who are threatening to down the government. Only Faith is working for these revolutionaries now. And Dwight proves a false villain and dies about half way through…
But yeah. No more spoilers in case I ever do release this thing, but rest assured it’ll be in a much different form that I’m more confident in. Like I say, the start is really cool. The end is great, too — there’s a fantastic arm-chopping scene to rival the eyelid snip of book one. But the middle… Yeah. Too contrived. Not my best effort.
So yes. Proof right there that while I may be prolific, I’m not afraid to toss a draft away if it isn’t up to my personal standards. Maybe a few people could learn from this, too.
2. What We Saw was supposed to have a flash-forward element running through the book
This is one of the cooler elements of writing that I kind of wish I’d kept. Basically, the end of What We Saw (SPOILER ALERT, AS WARNED!) was kind of a flash to the future for a brief chapter. A tying up of loose ends. Some people liked this — seeing what Liam and Adam were up to however many years in the future was cool. Others, not so much. Not enough explanation of why they hadn’t seen each other for so long. Not enough explanation of why Liam hadn’t “got the girl” after all.
Basically, the epilogue is a leftover of a “flash-forward” technique I originally incorporated through the book. Around the part where Liam and Adam first see Donald with Emily in the den, the book was supposed to take a disorienting cut to a future Liam, depressed out of his mind, addicted to painkillers, and struggling to deal with certain past memories.
This flash-forward was supposed to go on alongside the main story. Future Liam and Adam were supposed to meet, head to a funeral home, where Liam believed Emily was, only to find her working there under a new identity. Liam finds Emily, forgives himself for his believed past failings (which were also explained in the flash-forwards), and the epilogue was to cut in there.
Anyway, this flash-forward got scrapped in edits. My editor and I agreed that it would be best to focus on the main plot rather than this “tacked-on” subplot. Probably the right decision in all honesty — “kill your darlings,” and all that — but maybe one day in many, many years, these flash-forwards from What We Saw will surface. Highly unlikely — I’m more for looking forward — but a nice idea in principle, and a nice way to treat those who are already fans of the book. For those who haven’t read, the story as it is now is definitely the best, least self-indulgent experience possible.
3. Riley was going to get bitten in Dead Days
This is a more recent one, actually. Very recent in fact, but perhaps my craziest “SHOULD I SHOULD I?!?!” moment yet. Riley, the protagonist of my zombie serial, Dead Days, was almost bitten by a zombie in Episode Seven.
This was more a flash of inspiration than anything. A momentary glimpse of “maybe if I do that…”. And really, it was a nice, disorienting idea. Only it just wasn’t feasible. I kind of wanted Riley to get bitten, have his leg chopped off, then get fitted with a prosthetic. This had many problems. Firstly, it’s way too similar to a certain plot in The Walking Dead. Also, Riley just isn’t anywhere near being able to get a prosthetic leg, and even if he did, it’d take far too long for him to comfortably use it. The protagonist would be as good as dead, in other words.
So yeah. A nice idea, but Riley’s alive and well. For now…
4. Buried Slaughter almost contained real witchcraft
This isn’t one of my better ideas. Buried Slaughter, the latest Brian McDone crime mystery, very nearly took a turn for the supernatural.
Now I love the supernatural, don’t get me wrong. I touch on supernatural themes in loads of my work. But to introduce the supernatural in the second book of the McDone series, I felt it was jumping the shark a little (or a lot), so to speak.
I read a crime book by an author who I’d rather not name that contained a supernatural twist at the end, and as well as it was handled — kept as ambiguous as possible to keep the reader curious — it still came off a little iffy to me, especially considering the rest of the book had been a gritty crime mystery rooted very much in reality. I didn’t want this for McDone. That’s not the way I want to go.
Not yet, anyway.
SPOILERS OVER! Annnnnd exhale…
Hope you had fun reading over some of these “nearly-happened’s.” It would be nice to hear your thoughts on one or two of them in the comments, as always. I figured this would be a good little treat for fans of my fiction, showing just how open and untethered the creative process can be.
Right. Time to shoot. The sun is shining here, it’s getting quite warm (well, ten degrees celsius)… Spring is here at last.
Next week, I’ve got a cover reveal for The Hunger for you all.
Until then, have a great weekend!