Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rewriting is a huge mindsuck.

Somewhat to my surprise, I've been very engrossed in rewriting.  I'm down there in the muck, wrestling with the words, the structure, the mechanics of  Faerylander.

It's a huge mindsuck.  I'm more exhausted after doing 10  pages of rewriting than I ever was writing the stuff in the first place!  And it takes far longer!

I've been going to bed late, sleeping hard, waking up late.

And I'm not even completely sure I'm making it better.  It's a word jumble now -- I can't feel the story at all.  A totally intellectual activity by now.  My theory is -- make a word better and it makes the sentence better; make the sentence better and it makes the paragraph better; make the paragraph better and it makes the scene better; make the scene better and it makes the chapter better; make the chapter better and it makes the book better.

That's the theory -- and I just have to hope and assume that the original story is strong enough to carry all the added burden.  Going back over early drafts, I'm amazed how much of the original story is still there.  I'd have thought it was all changed by now.  This was a benefit of rewriting -- restoring some of my faith in the original story.

Most of the changes have been attempts to make the story move forward.  A lot of moving around of chapters.  I've never had a book where I could do that with so much -- and I'm afraid it isn't a good sign.  Story should follow story.   I shouldn't be able to  move entire chunks around and not have it impact the forward momentum.

I've tried to explain the motivations of the characters better, and create some tension. 

There is a lot of tightening of the language -- and I have to be careful about that, too.   I can take all the life out of it if I don't watch out.

What I often try to do is a final "sloppy" cut as I call it.  Letting go and just feeling it and added asides and messiness and just an overall feel.  Not working so much on eliminating everything.  Just letting it flow kind of loosely.

I enjoyed making my Director's Cut, and I've enjoyed turning many of the first few chapters into First Person/Present Tense. 

But -- in the end -- I probably won't do either thing.  I'll probably save a bit of the extended version and then go back to the conventional 3rd Person/Past tense format.  The first option reads well in short bursts, but become distracting over a longer novel, I think. 

But what all this messing around has done is given me a reason to really get down there and look at what I'm doing.   I think it has improved the writing.  I just needed a tool to get at it, and changing perspective and tenses is how I did that.
 Not all choices are obvious -- sometimes I move a chapter to another place and I think it improves some things and harms others.

At least with Faerylander, I'll know that I really and truly tried and did my best.  3 years of working on it, trying to 'fix' it.   Doing everything I can think of to make it better.  Then doing it again and again.

A few days ago, it felt to me like it transformed into a real book.   All the shoring up and fussing has made it a real story.

Soon -- within the next couple months, I'll settle on a final draft.  I'll finish and be done.

I feel comfortable that it is a real book.  I feel good that I've done everything I can to make it better.

I'm not sure it works, but I don't know if fiddling with it any longer will make it better.  Time to finish it, let it go, and move on to other things.

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