Last night I typed THE END on Las Vegas: High Stakes Game, thenovel I'm writing based on the hit NBC TV show. But I'm a long way from done.
To explain my problem I have to describe the book, and the way I work, a little bit.
The novel tells what happens to all the main characters between the end of Season 2 (the Montecito blowing up) and the beginning of Season 3 (the opening of the new Montecito). This was producer Gary Scott Thompson's idea, and it's a great one. I had turned in an outline that was a more typical TV tie-in outline--an adventure shoehorned into a certain spot in series continuity, and Gary liked it, but he wanted something more integral to the show. I'll always be appreciative of his enthusiasm for the project, and the access I've had to him and to anything I've needed to write the book.
As a result, there will be things happening in the book--important, life-changing things--that will never be shown on-screen. Things that we'll hear about, but not see. This may be the only TV tie-in in history that propels the on-screen action in this way.
The book follows all of the regular cast: Danny, Ed, Mary, Nessa, Mike, Sam, DeLinda, through six months of their lives, during which there's a lot going on. None of them are working at the Montecito because there is no Montecito, although it is being rebuilt. Ed and Nessa are in London, trying to find her father and figure out why he had two families. Mary has gone to Hawaii with her new boyfriend Jake. Danny is in Las Vegas, dealing with the fact that his father died and left him a construction company. Mike went on the road with Auntie Gladys Knight. Sam's vanished from sight, returning to her mysterious freelance ways. DeLinda is running a nightclub that is definitely NOT Mystique.
And nothing, of course, goes smoothly.
The book, of course, won't be on sale before the first episode of Season 3, but it's being rushed through production to be out in January or February, so not too far into the season.
Now, about the way I write something like this.
I keep each chapter as its own separate document until I get to the end, and then I compile them all into a whole. The reason is that chapters can change places, be completely re-written because of things that occur to me later on, or require other sorts of changes. If they were integrated into a full manuscript earlier, then each time I did major reconstruction I'd have to mess with the whole manuscript. My way, I can make the changes or adjustments, and the only thing I may have to do to the other chapters is renumbering.
In this particular book, because it takes place over six months, I have each month as its own section,divided into subchapters. So there are six chapter ones, six twos, etc.
Because there are seven characters to follow over six months, I knew the book would run longer than my original proposal, which was for the 85,000 words contracted for. As I went about ten days past when I originally planned to be done, I knew it was, in fact, running long. But until I got to the end and compiled it all into one document, I didn't know how long.
It came in just over 125,000 words.
Because of the way publishing works, that can be a problem. The publishing company has made projections based on an approximate page count. They may already have printed covers and bought paper and scheduled press time based on that page count. A few thousand words over or under isn't a problem, but half again as long can be. They may also have solicited at a certain price, and that many extra pages could require them to increase the price.
So the obvious solution is to trim, a lot. Which is what I'll be doing, at the same time as I do the final polish that I always do at this stage. I had hoped to have almost two weeks to do the final polish, instead of 4 days. But you play the hands you're dealt, especially in Las Vegas. The deadline doesn't change because I wrote too much. Also, I got the first several scripts of the new season recently, and stuff I'd already written has to be changed to remain consistent. So I have cutting, polishing, and rewriting ahead of me--some long days ahead.
I don't know if I'll be able to lose 40,000 words without major reconstruction, although that's my first goal.
This is all part of the job. Not the most fun part, maybe. But what has to be done is what has to be done. This is why writers are advised never to be afraid to "kill your darlings." Words, sentences, even whole scenes sometimes have to be done away with, no matter how much you love them, because they don't serve the book as a whole.
I'll be killing a lot of darlings this week...