Dennis Meredith: The Rainbow Virus, Second Edition

Cover: Rainbow Virus

Cover: Rainbow Virus

THE RAINBOW VIRUS, SECOND EDITION
Dennis Meredith
Glyphus LLC, July 21, 2016, $16.95 (paperback), $2.99 (Kindle)
ISBN-10: 0981884814; ISBN-13: 978-0981884813
ASIN: B01IU9QYHK

Meredith reports:

While non-fiction authors routinely produce new editions of their books, novelists don’t, with rare exceptions. The Rainbow Virus, Second Edition, is one of them.

The first edition, published in 2013, received good reviews. However, reader feedback and my experience publishing subsequent novels led me to believe I could greatly improve the novel.

I came to perceive significant shortcomings of both length and plot in the first edition. I didn't feel the novel fully reflected what I wanted to create — a dynamic science thriller, a vivid cautionary tale of bioterrorism, and a satiric exploration of our pathological obsession with skin color.

The length problem came from:

  • Scenes that didn’t advance the plot. Like many novelists, I loved my characters so much, I wanted them to “have a life.” So, I wrote scenes depicting that life — for example, a romantic dinner date — that didn’t propel the plot forward.

  • Lots of dialog instead of action. This violated the maxim among novelists, "Show, don't tell." I wrote too many scenes portraying meetings in which characters discussed events and strategy. Since meetings are not action, these scenes slowed the plot.

  • Too much technical detail. I fell into the trap of showing my research. As a science geek, I included too much detail about biological concepts and laboratory procedures.

Dennis Meredith

Dennis Meredith

The plot shortcomings involved unrealistic portrayal of the main characters. The strong-willed CDC scientist, Kathleen Shinohara, far too easily succumbed to the charms of the other main character, the disgraced, alcoholic FBI agent, Bobby Loudon, for example.

Basically, I made the kinds of mistakes that self-published authors too often make in this era where we have to be our own editors. I rewrote the novel, cutting it from 138,000 to 116,000 words. While I kept the romance angle, I changed the plot so that Loudon had to reform himself and earn Shinohara’s respect before she would even consider a relationship.

I still don't know whether the cost and effort was worth it. But creatively, and for my own peace of mind, I believe it was a great investment.

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August 17, 2016

Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

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