Bullet Wisdom

I am an Active Duty Officer in the US Army. I am a Husband, father, writer, hunter, gamer, and SOLDIER. This blog is a forum for my many hobbies as well as my random musings.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rewrite Hell

A month ago I resolved to rewrite my YA novel, EMANARE. At the time, the momentum was there. It was coming of a half-decent ABNA showing. I had a couple very solid betas. I had likable characters and villains, a timely plot, and some great dialogue (albeit a little stiff). Technically, I knew what the structure lacked and I figured a rewrite would be a snap. Uh-huh.

So why can't I get going? Well, the first obstacle is work. The second, third, and fourth, is well, life. Family stuff, father stuff, stuff around the house. Stuff, stuff, stuff...

Yeah, right.

Truth is, I've been procrastinating the hell out of a rewrite because, frankly, I don't know how to do one. The more I peel back the layers of the first manuscript, the more I find that not even a massive re-edit will do. In order to sync up the plot, sub-plot, and emotional arcs and craft them into into a symphony, I have to throw out a lot of the first book. About half.

I'll have to chuck maybe about the middle third to completely restructure the story the way I envision it. Before that, the first act will stand mostly intact, albeit with some sequence, dialogue, and character revisions. So a few good characters will become bad, while some of the original bad-guys will become a bit more sympathetic.

Momentum. I'm a Newtonian-style writer. (Objects in motion tend to stay...blah, blah) That is to say, once I get going, I can chew up massive amounts of ground. The kicker is, I have to get going. There's some vacation coming up, so the plan is to use the time to focus on the actual writing, putting the nuts on the bolts.

Until them, I'm planning and plotting, improving on the original story and characters' mythology and back-story. I'll get it done, I promise.

Hello, my name is Ken, and I'm a writer.


Danielle La Paglia said...

*in chorus* "Hello, Ken." :)

I knew writing a novel was not going to be a simple task. I knew I had a lot to learn and that a rewrite was in store for me in the end. I just didn't know how massive that was going to be. It was a disheartening realization, but I'm over it. I'm moving on. I'm learning. I'm plotting. I'm working. After the work, the writing will come. And it will be all the better for it.

Best of luck on your journey through rewrite hell. I know you can make it.

Selestial said...

Re-writes are tough. Trying to figure out what to keep and what to tweak and what to let go. It can be MADDENING.

I'm actually thinking about re-writing my first novel sometime this fall. A while back I said it was shelved for good, but I know I've come a long way since I wrote it initially. Part of me really thinks/hopes I can make it into something stronger and worthwhile. I have to admit, though, the prospect of re-envisioning the story scares me a little. But, I did it with Badlands (and that worked well :P).

My best advice is to just dive in and do it.

Good luck!

Kelly Metz said...

I can feel your pain man. I'm in my own re-write hell; one that seems very similiar to yours. More than half of my original draft is gone, character motivations have changed, new characters introduced, old ones killed off...if the title wasn't still the same, I'd wonder if it was the same story. Actually, the title's on the chopping block too...but not until after I've climbed the three headed beast in the middle of re-write hell and emerged changed, for the better, at the base of Mt. Purgatory...better known as query time.
Best of luck to you, and hope you find your push to get started. Have faith and see you there.

SusanKMann said...

I'm not at the re-write stage yet, but good luck and you will get there.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the hellish (and often fun) world of rewrites.

Look on the bright side - it's time spent with old friends. It's always interesting to give your characters another chance. You learn so much from them.

Falcata Times said...

You've got further than a lot of writers by getting a full tale completed to the first stage.

You're doing well, you're a top banana, you've kicked some pages bums.

So think things through a bit more, put it to one side and let the subconsious have a whir and when you've done that you'll get it all figured out. Just plan on what you want to achieve and just let it stew. You'll do fine.

Jessica Peter said...

Ah, my problem lies more in the getting writing, and the re-writing I'm excited about. . . for the first couple of drafts!

I just found this great explanation of how one author rewrites: http://m-stiefvater.livejournal.com/164746.html - though I guess you'd still have to get started first! ;)