Changing the Working Title to an Unfinished Manuscript

When I started working on the manuscript which had the working title of Hannenkamm, it was supposed to be a novel with ski racing as a backdrop to the stories about four men, their families and how they eventually cross paths. Now that I’m about two-thirds the way through the first draft, I had a major blockage. And, so a few days ago, I took a God’s eye view of the manuscript, just as I described in a prior blog.

So what did I learn? One, ski racing will still be in the background of the final third. What wound up on the cutting room floor was a sub-plot involving internal politics and payoffs/corruption within the U.S. Ski Team and the romance between a coach and an underage female racer. This story line may be part of another book.

Two, I have to move the plot along in big chunks of time. In the past, scenes followed each other in days, weeks, or even months. Forgotten takes place over twelve years and there are passages to provide insight into what happened between scenes. In this book, the plot covers the twenty-five years 1945 to 1970. Writing every event in the lives of four families would turn it into War and Peace.  What I am doing is modifying outline and story line and only including what As I create the story what is important in the context of the character’s lives and how history is shaping the story. Some passages that I think are interesting, a few scenes later get deleted because they don’t add either drama or conflict or tell the reader something new that adds to what they know about the characters.

Lesson three was a tough one – the title had to change. The Hannenkamm race for men in Kitzbuhel Austria race was significant during the novel’s time line and still is one of the most important in the ski racing circuit.  The course is one of the toughest, most difficult, and dangerous races (even when it is not icy) on the ski racing circuit.  However, the challenges of being ski racer are now secondary to the budding romance between an American boy and an Austrian girl.

So the working title Hannenkamm had to go.  As the story is evolving, the book is about holding people accountable for their actions even at time when the world doesn’t. Not revenge, not necessarily justice, although that plays out, but paybacks.  And for some, paybacks are hell. So the new working title of the novel is Retribution.

Marc Liebman

November 2016