Writer Tip Wednesday – The Dreaded Rewrite

Morning, lovely  people! 🙂 Okay, so maybe the title of today’s post makes it sound a bit more ominous than it really is. But sometimes, the rewrites can be the toughest – if easily the most creative – part to do. It can be the part where you up the gears of your book, and turn it from a sow’s ear into a silk purse. And yes, I did love the movie Mulan. What of it? LOL

So where do you start? Let’s take a peep at the different steps, because it’s certainly not a job to be done quickly.

1. Where will the reader struggle with what’s in your head?

Take another read through your whole manuscript, and imagine you know nothing of the world you have created in your book, nothing of the characters. At what points would you think it had jumped too quickly? Compare events to real life – would it happen so quickly. It no good having your character escaping from somewhere and turning up in the next town, all within the space of one paragraph. The reader will get bored with things jumping so quickly, and it makes it much harder to lose themselves in the storyline. Mark out all these places, putting notes as to why a certain section needs expanding.

Especially the mud on the face. Why would you put mud on your face?

Especially the mud on the face. Why would you put mud on your face?

2. Expand upon the expansion.

Now that you’ve marked out where you need to fill in the details, read through each one carefully. is it a character? How does it need filling out? Be careful not to fill out parts about characters with too many details of how they actually look. These are things which come later. But perhaps there was a conversation you missed out, a scene where more of the storyline needed explaining through dialogue? What are the important parts of your story, how will this link to them? There’s no point your characters having a conversation about the weather if it’s not integral to the plot. If it makes you bored, it will make your reader bored. Keep the tension running through the whole book, even if at times it’s only a fine thread.

If it’s an event that needs filling out, think of my point above – how would this happen in reality? Not to say you need every tiny detail in there, but a character escaping, an explosion going off, a fight – all of these things would not be over with quickly. Think of it this way, you’re building the tension until the reader is right on the edge of their seat. If it helps, even imagine a fight scene from a movie you watched – a good one. Did you watch the main character with bated breath? Were you wincing with every weapon that was swung or fired? All of that happened because it took a few details to get to that point. The character picked up a weapon – but then it was knocked out of their hand. The secondary character nearly gets to them to help, but he gets pulled back from behind, and slung into a wall. The main character runs for the enemy, but they trip halfway and nearly get killed by someone else. Fill out exciting scenes with extra details, moment by moment. This can really help to expand and build up the anxiety.

Look, the Doctor can get away with it. You can't. Unless you're the Doctor.

Look, the Doctor can get away with it. You can’t. Unless you’re the Doctor.

3. Check the facts

Does everything in your story match up? If one of the characters stormed off in chapter ten, due to disliking the main character after an argument, it’s no good them then turning up in chapter twelve having a hug with the main character, with no explanation of how  – if they did – make up again. Watch out for inconsistencies, and check them against what you would need to put in. This is an opportunity to do another part of rewriting – possible deleting. If something is unnecessary, or if it would be an info dump, consider deleting that part altogether, if it makes the story flow better. Check for time, as well. If an event was due to happen in a month for your characters, then suddenly it all kicks off three days later, you need to go back and change something. Create a story that flows easily from one part to the next. Think of it like a stepping-stone waterfall. One stone is different from another (chapters, if you will), but the water flows across all of them, joining them together. This is your plotline.

Don't leave your readers doing this. It's just not fair.

Don’t leave your readers doing this. It’s just not fair.

4. Be ready with the red pen

This is possibly the hardest part. You’ve constructed your tapestry of a story, woven the threads so tightly it’s like the Fort Knox of books…and now you’re going to tear it apart. Lots of first-time writers will not wish to delete anything, and you’ll fully believe everything should be left in. Not so. Are there any parts where the story drags on? Do you really need that conversation about the garden, if it doesn’t add anything to the characters or the story? What about the long description of the kitchen that goes on for two pages, too much maybe? Delete parts that don’t help keep the pace bubbling along, or where you’ve ‘filled in’ purely to plump out the word count. trust me, a reader can spot where you had that mental block and panicked with the wordage.

Luckily, you don't have to go to these extremes. Hitting the 'delete' button should do. Hopefully.

Luckily, you don’t have to go to these extremes. Hitting the ‘delete’ button should do. Hopefully.

5. Do your edits first

Lots of people will finish up on Step 4, and send it straight across to the editor. DON’T. You have to do your own edits first. There is nothing worse for your editor than picking through a totally unedited script. It shows both that you’re not serious about your talent as a writer, and that you would rather someone else did it. Your editor is there to give your manuscript a polish, to pick up the stray ends you didn’t spot. So remember to start with spelling and grammar – and don’t use Word’s ‘Spellcheck’. Ever read a book and come across a ‘form’ where it should have been a ‘from’? That’s because it won’t get picked up, as it’s still a word. Do it yourself, boring and laborious though it might be, and feel great at the end, knowing you’ve gathered up most of the escapees of good spelling and grammar. 🙂 Remember to check everything, from the right character’s name attached to speech, to a run-on sentence. Then, send it across to the editor for that final spit and polish.

Yeah, don't be this dude. Just don't.

Yeah, don’t be this dude. Just don’t.

Hopefully these little tips might help if you’re in the middle of writing your first book – or even if you’re onto your next one, and still learning all the time like me. Happy writing, lovely peeps! 😀 Don’t forget tomorrow is Thursday Teaser, so keep an eye out for another snippet of Daughters of Brigitania!

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