Always a pleasure to get the Booked. treatment. Robb and Livius take a deep dive into City of Rose. Lots of great insight here. Dig it.
I went into New Yorked, my first novel, without an outline.
It took five years to write. Characters appeared, disappeared, and reappeared. Entire threads were added, removed, repurposes, rethought, and ultimately, trashed.
One of the lessons I learned over the course of those five years was: I’m the kind of writer who needs an outline. I knew the start and I knew the ending, but the middle—that’s where I was getting lost.
The second book, City of Rose, I wrote and delivered to my publisher in six months. Part of that was because I found my voice and my process. But a big part, too, was: I had an outline.
And it was a damn good outline. Because I took a cue from a friend of mine, who has this trick for writing short stories.
He writes the story, then trashes it. A day or two later, he rewrites it from scratch. The logic goes that he’ll only remember the good parts, and the rest, he’s had time to think about.
He trashes the second draft too, waits a few days, writes a third.
The third version is his working version, which gets subject to editing and rewriting.
So for City of Rose, I thought I would give that a try with the outline, because that’s where I was getting jammed up. I outlined the book in a Moleskine after I was done sorting out my notes and character sketches.
I went chapter by chapter, spelling out the place, the characters present, the conflict, and the hook to drive readers into the next chapter. No more than a paragraph for each.
Than I waited a few days. Without looking back, I rewrote it. And I only remembered the good stuff. The places where I hit a wall—I had fixes and answers, since I had time to think them over.
A few days later, I outlined again. That third version nailed the story, hit all the targets I wanted to hit, and guided me through the book.
Write, trash, think.
Write, trash, think.
It’s important to note that an outline isn’t gospel. There were a few points where I veered off, or found in the writing that something needed to be moved or added or eliminated.
Think of an outline as a roadmap. You can cut around construction or take a longer route to get in some sightseeing—but you’ll arrive at your destination (the completion of the first draft) so much sooner if you’ve got some semblance of a plan.
What about you? Do you outline? Or do you write by the seat of your pants and hope you find the story in the process?
Cheers to S.W. Lauden, who put the screws to me over at his website, Bad Citizen Corporation. He had some great questions—I hope I gave some good answers back.
I’m thrilled to announce that—after my publisher abruptly shut down and dropped me last month—my books have found a new home: Polis Books.
Jason Pinter, the head of Polis, is a smart, passionate guy, and it’s great to be with a publisher that’s at the vanguard of the industry.
Here’s the official announcement from Publishers Marketplace:
Rob Hart’s debut novel NEW YORKED, about self-described “blunt instrument” Ash McKenna who wakes up to find that the woman he loves has been murdered, and must cut through the city’s underworld to find her killer while confronting his own family history of violence, along with a sequel, CITY OF ROSE, to Jason Pinter at Polis Books by Bree Ogden at D4EO Literary Agency.
Major props to my agent, Bree. She is a rockstar superhero.
It sucks losing a book deal. Here’s a thing you worked your whole life to achieve, and then you actually achieve it, and then it gets taken from you. It’s depressing on a level that’s hard to put into words. Luckily I had the support of an amazing community of writers and readers who reached out with a kind word, or the offer of a drink, or just a ‘like’ on Facebook. Every little bit helped, and it kept the days from being as dark as they could have been.
Now, though, it’s back into the light. Time to put the gears of war back into motion.
Look for New Yorked in print and digital in Summer 2015, with City of Rose to follow in Fall/Winter.
My latest Path to Publication column is live at LitReactor.
It went live last week, actually, but I’ve been on vacation. Check it out!
My first official interview as an author guy.
And so much damn fun that everything from here is pretty much downhill.
When I first conceived of New Yorked, it was meant to be a standalone novel. One and done. But I really enjoyed writing Ash McKenna, even though he’s a bit of a dumbass.
Plus, his voice sounds a bit like my voice, so I figured that for subsequent stories in the crime genre, the protagonist would sound too much like him, or like me.
So I started kicking around ideas for a series. Taking some of the books I wanted to write and twisting them around Ash. Let them serve as vehicles for this kid who’s seeking his moral compass. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got.
Exhibit A is excited about it, too. So much that they’ve agreed to buy the second book in the series, tentatively titled City of Rose.
This is hugely exciting. The folks at Exhibit A have been a pleasure to work with. They’ve got the guts and the vision to make this thing work. And the idea of me making a living writing books is becoming slightly less insane.
At the same time, it’s terrifying. Because now I’m committed. I have to write the damn thing. And Exhibit A is putting a lot of faith in me—they trust that I can do this. I don’t want to let them down.
I don’t think I will. Because the exciting part is way overshadowing the terrifying part.
So, New Yorked will hit in January 2015. We’re toying with Autumn 2015 for City of Rose, which will mean a lot less Titanfall and a lot more hours locked in my office. We’ll see how that goes.
Speaking of, want to learn more about the next installment? Check out the Exhibit A website, where the official announcement just hit.
Want to learn even more about the series? Tonight I’ll be interviewed by the brilliant ladies at the Books & Booze podcast, and I’ll spill some more details about it—including the mechanics of how the series will work, because that part, I’ve got mapped out. And it’s going to be a lot of fun. So you have to listen to the show.
I’ll blast out the link as soon as it’s live.
And mad props to my agent, Bree Ogden. This lady is unstoppable.