Key-Word Cavalry: The Goal of Rewriting a Novel

For those of you who are new to my blog, every Wednesday except for the first one every month, I take a key-word or phrase that have drawn or will draw readers and then I write about it.

This week’s phrase is: “What the goal of rewriting a novel.”


See here for credit and awesome post on Revisions vs. Rewrites

My guess is that everyone has a different reason for rewriting a novel, but in general, rewriting is mainly done to correct problems that are so big and so pervasive that it’s easier to write the novel again than to simply revise it.

Because trust me, most writers will revise and revise until they can’t any more before they rewrite.

Most writers whose blogs I’ve read keep rewriting as a last resort when they absolutely can’t fix the story in any other way. And even then, rewriting will usually happen after a long period of putting the ms on the back-burner.

On the other hand, I think of rewriting as just another tool in my arsenal, along with revisions and edits.

Where edits are to fix small errors, revisions are for fixing big issues. Rewriting fixes errors, plot holes and other problems that are even bigger.

And I find it incredibly useful. So useful, in fact, that I don’t write a single book that I don’t rewrite before I revise. It’s something that I would recommend to any pantser, because rewriting shaves out all those orphan scenes where we got distracted. It cuts out or ties up loose strings.

Basically it pretty much uniformly improves the quality of your manuscript before you start sanding it down and polishing it. Where revision fixes things part by part or aspect by aspect (I.E. by focusing on characterization or conflict), rewrites is a good way to improve everything throughout the entire draft.  

BUT. If you want to use rewriting as part of the editing process, it’s important to take some time to think about your story. Give your draft a rest so that you can get some distance from it and then reread it. Think about everything that needs to be smoothed, added or removed. Then you’ll need to have some sort of a plan before you rewrite. Yes pantsers, I know this sounds insane, but if you don’t plan before rewriting, you’ll just be writing a slightly altered rough draft of your original story. That won’t help you, since the point is to come out with a more polished version of the same story you wrote.

You definitely want to recognise your WiP when you reread your rewritten draft.

In summery, rewriting can potentially have two main goals: To completely change the story you’ve written from start to finish, or to improve the quality of your ms as consistently as possible.

How do you use rewrites? Do you hate rewriting?

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A to Z Challenge: Not the Middle!!!

I’ve noticed it a lot that if one says the word “middle” in the writing community, more often than not, you will get a groan back.

Yeah… sagging middles are the bane of many a writer’s existence.

So why do they happen?

There are a variety of reasons, but I can think of mainly three. 

Credit

First reason: flow. The middle portion of a story tends to be much longer than either the beginning or the ending sections. So odds are that you’ll get a sagging middle, if your pacing is off and you’re writing too many scenes where nothing important happens.

Second reason: Your ending is in the wrong place. If it feels like a moment in your story’s middle should be the ending, anything after that point will feel boring right up to the ending. Even if the climax is after that point. Sad, but true. For proof, think of the movie Casino Royal with Daniel Craig.

Third reason: Stakes. Your story should be raising the stakes for the characters all the time. All the way to the climax. How sharply or gradually this happens depends on the story and characters, but they do have to be raised. Slack down on the raising of stakes and the story will slacken. Especially around the middle.

If you’re lucky, it’s number one, where the solution might be as easy as a few deletions. On the other hand, the other two reasons require substantial work, so if your story has a sagging middle, try to check out the pacing first.
If the problem is from reason no 2, you might have to cut everything after the point mentioned above out and write it into a possible sequel. Best case scenario that I can think of would be revising the scenes leading into and out of the moment causing the sagging middle, in a way that means that you can take the moment out.

If stakes are your problem, I suspect that rewrites and revisions will be needed, but to see why, you’ll have to come back on R-Day.

Sagging middles aren’t impossible to solve, but they take a lot of patience and hard work to fix in edits. Which is why I try to keep the middle boosted right from the start. Failing that, from the rewrite onwards.

Look Out for These:

1) Flow issues.

2) Moments that look like the ending, but that aren’t in fact close to it.

3) Stakes not being raised.

What reasons do you find cause sagging middles? How do you solve them?

My Goals for 2012 (Yes, I know it’s early, but I couldn’t think of anything else to write about)

Today was cleaning day, as family and friends will be arriving for my mother’s birthday tomorrow. So after baking the cakes and delicious things, the rest of the day was pretty much spent washing floors.

It’s not my most favorite thing in the world, but I at least got some time and mindless activity that allowed me to think about my June 30 goal.

I still need to finish the WiP2 rewrite before I start Doorways edits, since I won’t have time for it later. So that means that the WiP2 rewrite has to be done by about 31 January. I’m about a quarter of the way through it, but since I did most of it in ten days, I don’t think my goal is all that impossible.

That way, once I am finished with Doorways, I have another story to edit and one to finish drafting, whichever I feel like doing first.

In the long run, I always want a project in the mail somewhere. For that to happen, I have to lay the foundation now.

Then I want to finish Don’t Look Back before the end of 2012. Hopefully I’ll be on the Doorways sequel by 2013? We’ll have to wait and see.

What about you? Have you set yourself any deadlines for next year? Let’s hear them.

Yet another dilemma…

Warning! Gratuitous Cute Kitty Picture to follow…

There is a reason though. Two, actually.

One is that I finished WiP2 this weekend. So… Those thousands of errors I conveniently pushed aside for later? Uhm… yeah… I’m talking rewrites. AND research. Of course, I’m loving the latter, but I’m not sure if I should be taking it on right now.

See, my Doorways crits are coming in. So far I’ve gotten two back. My courage flagged at the sight of the amount of work I’d need to do for round 2.

If I want to be finished with edits any time soon, I’m not sure that embarking on WiP2 rewrites will be the smartest thing. Especially when my time is sort of a rare commodity until the very end of October.

Of course, there’s NaNo, but I think it will be better applied to writing another rough draft (WiP3), so WiP2 won’t be happening then either.

So now here’s the million dollar question: When will I be able to do it?

A to Z Challenge: Where Did the Passion Go?

I’ve been working on Doorways for about three years, possibly three and a half. 


When Darrion walked into my head and demanded that I write the story, a love for the story sparked and it was almost all I could think about. Lucky for me I think of multiple things at once otherwise I would never have been able to cope with University.

I wrote with more than a few doldrums where I ended up not writing until they passed. But when I got back to writing, it was wonderful. An incredible rush that hummed in my blood every time I put down the pen. I’d write whenever I could. While the rest of the people were watching rugby between eating (think NFL), I was watching rugby between writing.

I never realized how much I’ll miss drafting until the first draft was done. For me, the first draft (whether it sucks or not) is the phase where we get to experience creation. We still have to explore everything and everyone. Nothing is hard and fast. Everything is new. With the first draft, I got to experience the liberation of writing whatever I wanted. I loved getting to know the characters. 

In December last year, the end of the story crept up on me. Really. Anyway. I rested the story until January and set the goal finishing date as 30 April. Almost immediately, I sensed a problem. 

See, after my frenzied first draft, I had to bring in a sense of the technical. I had to start thinking of things like pacing and voice. Of right and wrong. Of story elements. Themes. Subplots. Of fixing plot holes. 

Seems natural, right? Well, it is. But when it comes to my beast of an epic, things like that become daunting. There’s just so much! Fear crept in, choking out my spark of passion. Hopelessness followed soon after. I started to think that I’d been a little too ambitious in my choice of story to write. 

And with that, I started to wonder if I should even be writing at all. 

I tried to keep writing, but although I managed to keep going, my love for the story kept fizzling. In February I   stopped writing altogether. 

I kept it quiet, not wanting to admit that my beast beat me. So I gave myself pep talks. Lots of them. I even posted some on my blog. 

It got me writing with renewed determination, but not love. My story became the enemy. I was writing to show the Beast who’s boss. 

But one day, I was skyping a friend and something she said got me thinking. That thought turned into another thought and another and another until I had the main plot line that will run through the entire series. 

Just like that, I remembered why I love the story. Not a moment too soon, either. 

Because by that point, I’d been considering shelving Doorways indefinitely. 

But in that moment, when I saw where the series would go, I realized that instead of all those things scaring me, they’re helping me. Those considerations were what made my story as good as it could become. And it had better be good. There are three sequels in the pipeline. 

I wrote with new passion, sometimes I wrote six times my daily target until I finished it. 

Of all the things that I am most grateful for, I am so glad that I didn’t give up on Doorways as soon as I could have. 

So… Have you ever lost the passion for what you were working on? How did you get it back? 

Chop… chop… chop…

Hi all! I’m still waiting for that special brave soul who wants to contribute on the third Friday in January. But any other Fridays in March except for the first one is open. So, if you follow me (or have just clicked follow) and want to get you blog a bit further out there, please contact me at mishagericke@gmail.com (mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com) to book a Friday or to submit posts.

I cannot wait for Friday. 🙂

So… During the course of my rewrite, a new character has made her appearance despite my efforts to prevent this.

I have planned. I have outlined. I have sworn to myself that I would keep the cast from the first draft.

But… None of it worked. Quinlan, who appeared in the first draft has been growing in stature in my mind and his sister has pitched up as well.

Both are really quirky and completely unplanned.

I knew by the time I finished the rough draft that I would like to expand Quinn’s role, but as I started the rewrite, I realized that I couldn’t have him and another of my favorites (Eoin). After a lot of wondering, I decided that Eoin filled a place in the book that could be redistributed to Quinn, Darrion and Gawain. Which made him much too expendable. To my sadness, I decided to give him the chop in the rewrites.

Still, it makes me a little worried, because I always thought that he would be more interesting in the sequels. But that does not blunt the point that he is frankly taking up too much space. Between him and Quinlan, he is just that little (fatal) bit duller.

Then… in my rewrite, I required someone to bring Callan some clothes. In walked one of the most intriguing supporting characters that I have ever written. But I knew that she would take up too much place. Sigh…

But  wants her. *cries*

On the other hand, I realized that if Eoin had to go, his sister had no reason to stay, except to be Gawain’s love interest. Oh wait… He had his own thoughts on that… So… Eoin’s sister is now redundant. 

Chop chop.

At this point, I feel the need to mention that the new character was Quinlan’s sister before I even knew about her. So no… I didn’t just replace one brother and sister pair. I removed two characters and replaced them with others.

I still think that Eoin and Faye will find their way back though… Can’t wait to see what happens.

What about you? Have you ever had to make harsh choices about your characters? How did you come to your decision? How did it work out?

Rewriting

Hi all!

Firstly, a big welcome and thank you to all of the new faces that have joined up recently. I hope that you enjoy it here.

Just want to remind you all to contact me for a GPF slot. And remember, you need to please be a follower before you can post. I need one more blogger for the third week of February. If you are interested , please contact me at mishagericke@gmail.com (mishagericke(AT)gmail(dot)com).

Thanks to everyone who have shown interest so far. This is going to be awesome.

Then, I have finally joined twitter. So if you want to see my convoluted ramblings, go follow me @MishaMFB. I will follow you in return.

Finally, I am sorry for my absence yesterday, my Internet went fuzzy because it was the end of the month.

Back to the blog.

When I opened this post, I realized to my horror that I have no idea about a topic.

Luckily, it didn’t take that long for me to realize that I have mentioned almost nothing about my progress.

So how am I doing?

Well…

My rewrite and first draft coincide only on the first chapter. The rest have been shifted, deleted and added to within an inch of their lives. In fact, I am finding very little of my original work that is falling into the pacing and structure as I envisaged it.

Good side to this is that I haven’t been this excited about the story in a long time. The cleaning up has done wonders for the book and the plot holes are slowly being filled or removed.

So far I am absolutely loving the rewriting experience, although it doesn’t really offer the same sort of exhilaration as creating something from scratch. Yes, things are substantially changed, but it still comes from a story already written. But it is especially gratifying to know that the story is getting better now.

I must say that there are some issues with the structure, but it has already been improved this time around. Hopefully I will sort out the rest when I start to edit.
Will I make my 30 April goal? At this rate, I’ll make it by the end of February. On the other hand, I’m not sure if I can maintain the rate at this time though, since we have guests again. Still, in exchange for seeing these wonderful three people, I am willing to finish a little later.

What about you? Any of you rewriting? How are things going for you? And for those who are editing, querying and creating?