Saturday, November 16, 2013

The trick to rewriting.

The trick to rewriting...for me.

As anyone who reads this knows, I don't enjoy rewriting anywhere near as much as writing the original draft.  But I may have discovered the reason why, and how to fix it.

The advice that writers are given, as usual, is both right and wrong.

The advice to let the manuscript sit for a length of time in order to gain perspective is correct for as far as it goes.  Unfortunately for me, that advice usually meant that I was coming back cold and was trying to change the surface of the manuscript.  It seemed tedious and somewhat less than cost effective.

The idea of coming back cold was that I'd read it as a stranger --

But that doesn't work for me.  I just don't feel anything.  I might as well be painting rocks and throwing them over the fence.

The answer for me turned out to be -- I had to get re-immersed in the book to the same level of commitment and dedication as I was on the first draft.  In other words, I had to feel it and understand it just as deeply.  THEN I could start making changes.

So the trick for me is find an entry point -- something significant that needs to be done, and then, once I'm completely re-immersed, give myself the freedom to start making changes.

I kept at Faerylander over the last couple months, and the more I struggled with it, the more I started to feel the story again, understand the characters again.

I've completely reworked the book -- like Tiger Woods throwing away a perfectly good golf swing and working, struggling on a new one for a couple of years, with the hope of making an adequate golf swing into a good one.  Like Tiger Woods, it may be worse for awhile.

I think I'm better than adequate now, and have given myself the chance to really improve the book.

I understand the characters and their feelings and motivations, I understand the plot, and I think it is all of a piece.

So once again, over the next two weeks, I'm going to try to do a "final" draft.  Start at the beginning and try to make a good strong narrative flow.

I told myself last night to "tell" the story to myself -- in sequence, and "feel" it.  Even if I sit in a darkened room and tell the story to myself outloud.  Who these people are, what's happening in the story, why, how -- all that.  A total overall sense of the emotions and feelings I'm trying to capture.

Then, when I've done that, sit down and attempt the final draft.

Unintentionally, I programmed my brain last night and dreamed all night long like it was a book -- I didn't come up with anything new, just the sense of continuity and narrative I want to replicate in the book.

After I've sat and told myself to the story, got it all encompassed in my mind, then my entry point will be inserting the Famous Author chapters -- trying different ways.  Randomly, in order, all together.  See what seems to be working best. 

THEN sit down over the next few days and run a smooth narrative.  THEN next week, give it a complete read from beginning to end.

I'm hoping I'm there -- it will be the 10th or 12th time, or something like that, but each time something happened that made the book better, so maybe this time it's it and maybe not, but at least I'll have probably advanced the book again.

One of these days, I'll feel like it's ready.

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