Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Adventures In Rewriting

I'm no expert on rewrites. I've only attempted one before, and that wasn't so much a "rewrite" as "attempt to plug all the plot holes in Book One that came about as a result of writing Book Two and Three". About the biggest change I made was trying a different method of attempted murder on my narrator, and rejiggering a particularly awkward fight sequence.

However, the story I mentioned above, once November is over and I have sent my monstrosity of a NaNovel off to those who care to join me in a novel swap, is due for a full-blown, all-horns-blazing, clouds-of-fire-and-a-toaster rewrite.

Rewriting is by definition a wholly different bag of cats to simple editing. Whereas with editing, a lot of it will be geared more towards fine tuning, with some cutting and slashing here and there, a rewrite is just what it says on the lid - starting from the very beginning, with varying degrees of the old material coming into use. And not neccessarily in the right order, either.

I'm ridiculously excited.

The story I plan on rewriting was the first project I ever finished. It was terrible - I was thirteen, with very little experience, and absolutely no idea how a sword worked. That said, I grew very fond of the characters and story, and was thoroughly proud of myself when the whole thing grew into a trilogy.

Everyone looks very impressed when I tell them I wrote one of those.

So why am I excited over going in, viciously shredding and Frankenstein's-monster-ing my old darling? Because I've thought of so many ways that the rewrite will improve it. The plot will be more complex, the characters more dynamic and engaging, the setting better developed, and I can finally get rid of that useless plot point of a character I threw into Chapter Three to give someone an excuse to make a clever joke.

A first draft of a novel is like blundering your way through the underbrush of the Amazon rainforest with nothing but a set of nail clippers and a map from the sixteenth century.

A rewrite is going down that same path, but with a flamethrower. And a bag of jelly babies.

~ Charley R

19 comments:

  1. Ah! I know how rewriting feels! My life as a writer has seemed to be made up entirely of rewriting novels. But why sentence a WIP you love to 'finished' basket, if you can make it BETTER?! And thus I live between rewrites. Good luck! Stay enthused, that's the important part. ;)

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    1. Haha, thanks for the tip! I bet I'll need it.

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  2. gOsh - somtimes I forget how you you are (and Miriam too) because I feel I've known you forever and that you're closer to my age, or I"m closer to yours... maybe I feel like we're a gaggle of friends in our mid 20s... Anyway... I forget how different your perspective is on that. (I'm also tempted to go to chapter 3 and find that thrown in character and joke, lol)

    As alwyas my crew and I tell you good luck, and they also ask of me, why I'm not rewriting them at teh same time, since they feel such kindred spirit to your crew.

    Still after NaNo I'll be working on my Romance, Holy Horses, yes a romance. The first book I ever finished, even had it read by my aunt, who stopped reading at one point and snet me a book on hawlking... It's also the only one I actually have three completed versions of. (So I guess I have experience in re-writing, lol.)

    Anyway, It looks to be intriguing journey for both of us.

    And, as funny as this sounds, try writing a log line to help you maintain direction... I may have to re-write the one for my naNovel, but I think it will be as simple as changing protection to company. *grins*

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    1. Ahaha, sometimes I forget that too . . . I don't feel very old often, but sometimes i feel wise beyond my years . . . then I think I'm not even out of school yet and feel like a baby again, haha!

      Oh wow, good luck! Kind of symbolic that we both start rewriting our "first" novels together, though. Much love from your crew to mine - i think someone has an "SOS" code blinking already!

      A log line . . . now THERE's a good idea! I may have to try that if I find my plot wandering.

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    2. I can understand part of that, becuse despite the fact I've been out of school for a while, am married and have two kids, there are time when it seems beyond me and all I want to do is run back to my mom's and not worry about anyone else but me...

      And only one someone has an SOS going? *grins*
      I'm not sure my Holy Horses crew knows what they are infor yet... then again being a Romance it may not be as bad as my Adventures. :}

      So far the log line (wrote it on the Drive Home on Sunday):
      "Christeen always felt as though she was born in the wrong centruy, but when Michael seems to step from a Fairy tale, can she give up everything to live her dream?"
      It still needs some work, imo. :}

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    3. N'awww *cuddles*. Life is like that sometimes. Nasty nasty thing.

      Well, I don't know how many other someones are involved in its production yet ;)

      Ooh, that's a nice one! Will have to do some proper thinking on mine after November, haha.

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  3. Haha you made me laugh! (partly at myself because I keep adding characters when I have this really funny line that doesn't seem to belong to anyone..). Good luck with that flamethrower!

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    1. I'm very glad I did! And thank you very much :)

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  4. Sometimes it's useful to let go of the old, useless drafts, though. Especially when they were written by a thirteen-year-old self. *thinks back to his own drafts* Yes, it's much better to put those behind you.

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    1. Exactly. Hence "re-write", not "re-draft". Basically, I'm ripping out all that was horrible and taking the original concept and characters and putting them in something far more sophisticated and awesome. With a few plot points pinched here and there, not that you'd recognise them when I'm done with them, haha!

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    2. I see... So you're reorganizing, basically. Not the same story, perhaps the same characters, and a few of the same concepts, possibly in the same (or a similar) world. Interesting. I'm going for a redraft.

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    3. Pretty much. Except I AM using the same world (post plenty of worldbuilding), same characters (post lots of work and development to prevent Clone Syndrome), and most of the same major plot points . . . just new and improved. So yeah, a reorganisation is probably a good term for it. Followed by rewrite.

      Redrafting, now, how would you define that?

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    1. I knew you were evil, but I never could have dreamed that you were this evil! Do you eat babies covered with grape jelly or strawberry jelly?

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    2. Just wait 'til you read the Serpent's Shadow; Sadie Kane hunts jelly babies. Such cruelty.

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    3. Jelly babies are prey. What do you expect me to do, admire them from a distance like a respectable member of humanity?

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  6. I am re-writing as well. So can I have some jelly babies?

    The best thing I can say about re-writing, it isn't as bad as editing. (It is fun, finding an old story with good plot and characters and getting to make it better! Especially if it has a sword in it.)

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    1. Of course! Jelly babies for everyone!

      Oh, multiple swords in here - some more useful and insidious than others. Thanks for the comment, too!

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