Rewrite – The Writer’s Bane
Rewrite – The Writer’s Bane
Today I’m going to discuss the bane of writing: Rewriting.
Here’s a brief recap of revising: basically you are fixing scenes, dialogue, fixing the chronology, checking the point of views of the scenes.
Editing recap: checking for spelling errors, mistakes in grammar, and punctuation.
Now, here comes something no writer wants to go through, but sometimes it is necessary: Rewriting. You have finished the first draft of your novel, did some editing and revisions along the way. You have sent the book off to your beta readers and you are sitting down to read it yourself. When you hear back from beta readers your worst fear is realized. What you have written isn’t working. No matter how you try to spin it in your mind, you have a lot of problems. If you were to publish this now, you would get zero reviews or one star reviews.
You love the plot, and theme, but you have a great many problems to correct before you are ready to publish. Time to tear apart what you originally wrote and sit down to rewrite. Pay attention to the comments your readers made and what you noticed when you read through it.
Make a list of all the scenes and characters in your book as you read through it. Take note of the problems pointed out and cut or write each one. Sometimes you have to remove characters and entire scenes. You need to get back down to the skeleton of your story, then go back and add the flesh to make it a living, breathing story.
I know, I know. All that work you did, all the time you spent writing your book and now you have to go back and rewrite it. It’s not fair! However, if you publish it as is, you aren’t being fair to your readers. Keep that in mind when rewriting is getting you down.
If you are having problems rewriting, do a reverse outline for each chapter. Do all the scenes have to do with the main plot and a couple minor plots in the book? Do all the characters move the story along or are some bogging it down? If any characters do nothing to advance the story, then it’s time to kill them off. I know, killing your creations hurt like hell, but sometimes you have no choice in the matter.. The same goes for any subplots. IF the subplot has nothing to do with the main plot, get rid of it.
Once you have skinned your book down to solid bare bones, then comes to time to rebuild. The scenes and characters you have left behind need to be solidly connected and fleshed out. Yes, it is going to take time, but now you have two things in your favor.
- You have already written this once. You know how the remaining characters sound and act.
- You have a plan to work from, based on the notes you made when you were tearing it apart.
Once you have finished the rewrite, it’s time to send it back to your beta reader to find out if the rewriting made a difference.
Here’s something to keep in mind: all the scenes and characters you cut? Don’t toss them out. You might be able to use them for short stories. Just because you had to cut something out doesn’t mean the writing was bad, it means it didn’t fit into the plot and storyline you were going for. Those characters might have stories of their own to tell.
May the words ever flow!