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Fortune is a Fickle Goddess…

September 9, 2008

Time to step away from the maddening world of electoral politics for a quick progress report on the writing side of things.

These past three weeks, I’ve been going back over old notes, piecing together timelines, and composing a story treatment for my second novel in the War With Hannibal saga, tentatively titled Fortune is a Fickle Goddess. The sequel will follow the further adventures of Scipio, Fabius and friends in their continuing struggle with the legendary Carthaginian commander. 

One crucial difference this time around is that Fortune lacks the same linear narrative thread that held the first book together. In The Scourge of Rome, the progression of events led from one battle to the next, from Ticinus to Trebbia, Trasimene, and ultimately Cannae. When Fortune picks up in the spring of 215 B.C., Roman strategy has shifted. The Senate, stung by the disastrous loss at Cannae, has finally embraced Fabius’ strategy of avoiding direct confrontation with Hannibal and his tactical brilliance. Instead, they focus their efforts on dividing Hannibal’s attention and striking where he is not. Brilliant though he may be, Hannibal is still one man with one army. He cannot be everywhere at once.

Thus, where the first book was filled with epic battles, the second will focus more on the divide-and-conquer strategy, on sieges and subterfuge, and on political intrigue in the Senate. There is still drama aplenty, with the everpresent knowledge that one misstep could result in disaster and once again put the Republic within a hair’s breadth of collapse, but for the most part this will be the story of how Rome battled back from the bring, how it hung on when just about any other society at the time would have accepted terms.

It is also, in many ways, a bridge novel, exploring the success and limitations of the Fabian doctrine and setting the characters up for the explosive events of the third and fourth novels.

Now that the story treatment is in place, I am just about ready to begin work on the draft. And this time around, I’m planning a different approach. With The Scourge of Rome, I labored overlong on the first pass, trying to get each word exactly right. As a result, it took three years to complete, and even then I found myself obliged to go through several extensive revisions to get it where I wanted it. This time, I am hoping to push through the first draft as quickly as possible, and rely more heavily on the revisions to properly polish the story. To that end, I am setting myself a goal – three hundred words per day.

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