So, as anyone who has read some of my blog entries here might know, the heroine in The Album has caused some contention. Right from the get-go, I was told that Ariana was frustrating and annoying and “stubbornly pig-headed”. Well, buckle in and learn where she gets it from because it’s storytime!
I was inspired to write The Album by the song Gives You Hell by The All-American Rejects. It brought the idea of Gabriel and Ariana to life in my head. I liked the idea of the girl who had been with the rockstar but left him. He was so bitter, angry, and hurt, that he wrote a song like that.
From there, I came up with the concept of him writing an entire album that documented their relationship from start to finish. Every song was associated with a moment in their love story. So, I had Ariana win tickets to his concert where the band performs the album from start to finish.
With each song, sung at the concert, you had Ariana’s current-day reflections interspersed with a memory of their time together (which was the majority of each chapter). Through the course of the chapters/songs, you learn what happened between them, how they fell in love, and how they fell apart.
When I got my developmental edit back, my editor suggested that I should not let the audience know that Ariana left. She suggested re-writing it, so it would just be a generic description of Gabriel onstage, then drop into the past. None of Ariana’s thoughts and emotions in the present day. I attempted this and it was awful. So, I took this to mean that I was right. Hello, stubborn streak.
I went ahead with the book the way that I had intended to write it. Now, if The Album had been a standalone novel, that would probably be where this blog ends. It currently has a 4.0-star rating on Goodreads, a 3.7-star rating on Amazon and sells a whopping 1-5 copies a day. Winner, lol. But, that’s actually great, because people are reading what I’ve written and a lot of people are loving it. Even a couple of the TERRIBLE reviews said they couldn’t stop reading.
However, as I wrote The Wedding, I started to worry about the fact that The Album wouldn’t “fit” with the rest of the series. There’s no need for flashbacks in any of the other books, so there are none. This very unique and specific story-telling device made no sense on those books. As I continued on to The Baby, it also became apparent that I really hadn’t done Ariana justice with my portrayal of her (see my entire post defending her here).
When she first meets Gabriel, she’s twenty-two years old, suffers from anxiety and self-worth issues and is thrown into this world full of fame and excess, having already been exposed to the darker side of that world in her past. Because the readers know that she leaves, it comes across as though Ariana was never really committed to Gabe, even though she was.
So, how do I plan to fix this? The rewrite is off for proof-reading and re-formatting today. When I really thought about it and decided to change the book, the answer to what to do was obvious to me.
Chapter one is now called “The First Song”. I have taken all of the present-day concert bits from the start and end of each chapter and moved them to a chapter at the end of the album chapters. So now we have:
Chapters 1-14 – The First Song, The Second Song, The Third Song…you get the gist.
Chapter 15 – An Unfortunate Win. Currently the first chapter, this is now when you find out that it’s two years after she’s left, there’s a concert happening, and Ariana will be at it.
Chapter 16 – The Concert. This contains all of those concert bits that I removed from the previous chapters, with Ariana’s reaction to each song during the concert.
Chapters 17-19 – Same chapters as in the current book.
Chapter 20 – The One. Added chapter because the ending was kind of rushed.
Chapter 21-The end of the book. All the same as before.
Other things that I’ve changed…originally, Ariana tried to defend her decision, early on in the concert. This doesn’t make sense with the fact that she’s changed a lot as a person over the course of the last two years, so I’ve made her own her shit more. She knows she fucked up, she’s even had therapy to work on her issues.
I also changed a couple of lines that made it seem like Gabriel approves of Sebastian’s treatment of women. He doesn’t. He is still guilty of not calling Seb out on his shit and of letting it slide, but he doesn’t actively try and convince Ariana that Seb isn’t a misogynistic asshole and that he’s a “good guy”, anymore.
So, I won’t lie…I had some resistance from people when I suggested that I would do this. Namely, my Mum! My biggest fan. The person who quotes this stuff back at me and argues with me about my characters. So, I made the change and I gave it to her to read.
She likes it.
More specifically, she said that if she only had to read one version of the book for the rest of her life, she’d read the new one. It’s a much better story and Ariana comes across a lot better because you’re not reading the whole thing through the lens of “she left him, that’s insane, she obviously doesn’t care about him,” or as one person put it in their review, “Ariana’s one-foot-out-the-door approach to her relationship frustrated me to no end,”.
Shoutout to my editor, Dana Hopkins, for calling me out on this LONG before it would be a drama for me to change it!
All in all, I’m happy with this change and I just hope that nobody loses their mind when I publish it this way. I finally get to do Ariana justice. In other news, I ticked over the 90,000-word mark for The Baby today. I have laid out what’s happening for the rest of the book and hopefully, it will read okay.
I also came to a massive decision. Long ago, I decided that when I finished the four Cruise Control novels, I would re-write them from the hero’s perspective. Some of you, no doubt, will have read Gabriel’s POV of the night that he met Ariana at the charity event. Well, through a discussion with a close writer friend, we got talking about narration styles.
I write in close, limited third-person narration. It’s just what I naturally do (baaaahahaha, I just realised that these blogs are all first-person narration!). Anyway, just for shits and giggles, I wrote two paragraphs in Sebastian’s first-person POV and god damn, did I love it. So, I’ve decided that when I do the hero books, I’ll do them in first-person narration. The heroine books will remain as they are in close, limited third-person narration.
It does mean that the re-writes will be more difficult and take slightly longer because all of the tenses need to be changed to write first-person narration, but it also means that the books will be so much more different. I like the idea of having these totally different styles for the books.
Tonight, I came up with a tentative release schedule for the books. Good gravy, please don’t hold me to this!
The Album – 14th March 2020
The Wedding – 6th June 2020
The Baby – 18th November 2020
Gabriel’s Album – 14th March 2021
Harrison’s Wedding – 6th June 2021
The Stalker – 23rd October 2021
Sebastian’s Baby – 18th November 2021
Dreams – TBC (This is a standalone novel, outside of the Cruise Control world.)
Hayden’s Stalker – 23rd October 2022
It’s…ambitious, to say the least. But remember that time I told you guys that I was going to write a book in two months and I did it in five weeks, instead, and it turned out to be bloody amazing? Well…I’m kind of hoping for more of that. Don’t fail me now, brain! Of course, the hero books are kind of easy. The stories, themselves, are written. It’s just a matter of hopping into each man’s brain and finding out how he felt about the whole business.
So…I did just that, yesterday. I wrote the first chapter of The Baby from Sebastian’s first-person POV and I love it. I want to finish writing the entire book, immediately. In the same way that I know in my heart that The Wedding will be my favourite of the four Cruise Control heroine books, I know that Sebastian’s Baby will be my favourite of the four Cruise Control hero books.
And there we have it. This is what I’ve been up to. This is why I’ve only written 10,000 words of The Baby in six days. I’ve been re-writing The Album and screwing around in Sebastian Fox’s head. I have no regrets. 😘
Gosh Sian, that sounds like hard work – but if you hadn’t done it, changed that first book you’d always be wondering, and maybe feeling a bit ” i wish i’d…” when you felt it was out of step with the others.
I’m an artist ( when my paints are not in storage, house moved and reno on new one taking ages, no paints since oct 18) and sometimes a work feels a little “not right” but changing it would be major, even though its only a tiny bit i’m not happy with. I know now if i don’t do what my gut is telling me I’ll never feel really happy about that work. Maybe writing is like that.
I occasionally have a go at writing – for me mainly, to see if i can do it. What i write just isn’t interesting though, feels stilted and i can’t seem to link up plots so i give up. TBH i don’t need more to fill my day, its busy enough already, but its something i’ve always had in mind – Could I write a book? I think by now the answer has to be no 😉
Anyway, I’d love to read the new version. If you drop me an email I’ll add it to my approved docs list and give you my knidle email.
I’m completely in awe of people with artistic talent. I pretty much can’t draw anything more complicated than a stick figure!
I was talking to my husband about this the other day. I suppose that people who can do that, feel the same way as I do about writing. Like, sometimes I’m amazed that I’ve written a novel (well, two and three-quarters, now!), but for the most part it doesn’t feel like a huge feat to me because it comes so naturally and doesn’t feel worthy of amazement.
Painting something, though? That I’m amazed by, because I can’t do it!
Oh, and I’ve sent you an email!