Sunday, 20 January 2013

The creative process of rewriting

When I first started writing, I honestly believed I would write a single narrative, maybe tidying up as I went, and that would be 'the book'. Maybe it is for some people, maybe they plot better or edit better as they go. maybe they just write wonderful prose from scratch. I don't know. But my first drafts are confused, full of loose ends, cobbled, inconsistent, and written in cliches and repetitions. I've just delivered draft 9 of the first book.

So I stalled at the rewrite. The first book I completed to reasonable standard is full of complications that don't get explained or resolved, or characters whose personalities change with the weather or my mood, that day, as I was typing away. I just didn't know how to rewrite, and doing an MA didn't help. They didn't teach us how to rewrite anything bigger than a short story either.

I'm finding my own way through it. First, I realise that no matter how badly I want to jump into a book, it has to be left alone so my brain can detach from what it was trying to achieve in order to assess what I actually achieved. I need to analyse what I have, in order to come up with ideas about what doesn't work and how to fix it. Also, new ideas that can sharpen the book, or add interest.

Then then is the dreaded pace. Some chapters meander along and don't really deliver any forward movement to the story (sometimes people just drink tea in my books). It's OK after a big action scene to have a reaction of some sort, of course, a breather and some thinking time for the reader as well as the characters. But great swathes of tea drinking and desultory conversation, too many sighs, no-one sorting anything out...I seem to excel at these.

I have decided to update and improve A Baby's Bones before my editor sees it, so he can see what I'm trying to achieve, and feed back suggestions so when I come to do more final edits in the autumn, I've got something to work on. I'm trying to separate out the two strands: historical and contemporary, so I can work on them. I've given myself ten days, then off it goes and the big rewrite of book 2 has to start in earnest. I'm nervous, I don't know if it's had enough time and I don't know where to start, but writing it down in these blog posts, and reviewing what I did last time, is helping me work out a system. It may be a bit rubbish, but it's mine. I'm toying with going to one of Arvon editing courses. Maybe that would help! 

6 comments:

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    1. I hope so! I am quite enjoying reading it, anyway, I can see a few places to make it better. Hope everything's going well for you. Rx

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  2. Rewrites are the worst and best sometimes! It's truly hard to stop and correct something when it's a big problem (I often find myself avoiding them until I force myself to deal) but! It is pretty sweet to find something that is great. That you can't knock. That still sounds good. I love that.

    Good luck!

    <3

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    1. Thank you Mia, I'm working through it just finding slow patches!

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  3. I actually find your redrafting comforting. I might get there to!

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    1. The hardest bit is still forming that first draft, I just don't seem to have an easy method of rewriting! Hopefully you'll find a better one.

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