Hello Dear Readers,
Some of you may wonder if I’m actually still a writer, since I haven’t been talking about it. I haven’t been talking about it because, except for a ton of freelance articles and a pesky annual report, I haven’t been writing.
My new goal is to get Dragonfly Summer in the hands of my second line-up of volunteer editors by the end of June. That would give people a month to read it and make suggestions, another month for me to make any changes I agree with, and then it could be out on submission in the fall. It would be perfect timing, because even agents and publishers take summer vacations, and anything I send during the hot and sunny months would languish in the slush pile anyways.
There’s only one problem with my plan. I hate rewrites. Really, sincerely hate them. Oh, I will do them–don’t get me wrong–they’re an integral part of the process, but I’ll be kicking and screaming until I give myself completely over to them. One good thing is that these rewrites are at my own behest. No one’s giving me impossible goals, like telling me I need to add a unicorn, or make it read more like a Spenserian sonnet.
I was supposed to begin on June 1, but now it’s the 2nd and I still haven’t picked up my theoretical red pen. This is how the entire year has gone. I don’t want to waste any more time.
I’ve heard tale of some mythical writers who actually love rewriting. Who are you people, and what’s your secret?
Of course, if you hate rewrites, too, feel free to bitch and moan. Misery loves company.
I love re-writes. I just don’t love them if the book has been sitting for too long and I’m no longer living and breathing the world they live in. If a re-write is required, I usually know it and tackle it immediately. I personally find them so much easier than raw writing because by the time you get to the re-write phase you are no longer figuring out who your characters are. And sometimes a character that starts out as a prop ends up getting interesting by the end of the book and you get to go back and brighten them up a bit and give them an expanded role. That’s what I like.
And Blogger seems to want to identify me as anonymous today so in the event it continues to do that… it’s Kim.
I rewrite as I go. Some scenes get the 2-3 draft treatment, some are great right out of the keyboard. But I agree with Kim … you have to have your head still in the book. There’s also the put-it-away-and-forget-it rewrite, when you revisit the subject or theme with a new idea. I like that, too. It’s like stealing from yourself.
I was going to say that writers who like re-writes are like jackelopes (only other people have seen them) but I know Kim 🙂
Holli, I hate them too. They’re necessary and make my stories better but I fight every step of the way. (It took 3 attempts to gut my movie synopsis and get it right.)
And I have two huge rewrites waiting. Both of my romance novellas were rejected for the same reason (an aspect of characterization). I’ve spoken to some romance writing buddies and they’ve given me some suggestions and advice that should help.
But that means I have to go back to my two 20-25,000 word projects and FIX them. Ugh!! The horror!! If I do it correctly and manage to sell them, it will be worth it. It’s the getting there that sucks.
Good luck with yours. I’m starting mine this weekend. (and if this comes up as anonymous, this is Elspeth.)
Maybe it isn’t the rewrite you dislike Elspeth, maybe it is the “letting go ” part that is hard. Letting go of a plot line that you once liked that no longer fits or is no longer necessary to develop plot or character or a conversation or some other mood or nuance. I think it was JK Rowling who said it best that sometimes there are certain parts of the story that you HAVE to write because you character needs to do or say certain thing and take on a life of their own but in the grand scheme of things it is just filler to get you to the next part of the story that is critical and can be cut out in the end.
In my first novel I had a lot of scenes that took place in cars driving from place to place and the vast majority of them didn’t need to be there and got cut. There were also a few things that got cut because of pacing. Scenes that were keeping us from getting back to the interesting part of the book and didn’t add much to the story. The trick is to recognize them and be willing to let them go.
Save them in another file if you have to. But you will always hate rewrites as long as you hate letting go of your words. That’s how I see it.
Sometimes it’s difficult for me to get started with rewrites, but a part of me enjoys changing things around, discovering new ways to say the same thing, deciding that a paragraph sounds better by changing the order of a few sentences.
I’m sure once you get back into it things will go along great.Being deep in the middle of a story is much better than standing on the outside looking in…
Thanks for your comments, everyone. I think most of us can agree that rewrites are a necessary evil.
@ Kim – these rewrites have indeed been sitting for a while. I wanted to give the book…and myself…time to ‘breathe’. I definitely don’t have a problem cutting out words, though. I’m a ruthless editor.
@ Susie – thanks for your comment. I never rewrite as I go, but my first drafts are fairly clean–they’re getting better with each novel. I don’t think this rewrite will be too tasking…it’s just making myself do it that is the challenge.
@ Elspeth – we’re definitely on the same page, except I still haven’t cracked mine. How’d yours go?
@ Laura – so true. Thanks for your comment.