Monday, September 3, 2012

Rewrite or rewrite from hell?

Rewrite. And then rewrite again.  There’s rewriting and then…rewriting from hell.  As most writers will say, writing is rewriting. The first draft of your novel is the purest and most perfect form of the story you want to tell. It’s the only time you can write with total abandon and get it all out. You should feel wonderful when you get to write the words: The end.

Savor it.

Then the rewriting begins. You cut out the clichés, redundant phrases, run on descriptions, double negatives. You carefully peel back the layers and look for the heart of the story. The hardest thing to do is kill your babies, sometimes you have to cut those passages that you love the most in order to move the story along.

Rewriting is hard work.

But there’s something worse: Rewrite from Hell. This is the worst. It’s when you rewrite for an editor or literary agent that has no clue what she wants or what the story is about or how to sell it. My literary agents fell in to this category. They did not make my novel better; it went astray and became unrecognizable even to me.

Somehow, through the process, dialog didn’t get snappier and action scenes more dramatic. I cannot tell you how many times I rewrote The Bloody Mary club. It has gone through at least 17 drafts. The characters changed, were cut then added back in. Locations modified, dialog pared back, and even stock market investments mentioned came and went.

I finally came to my senses and rewrote the story the way I wanted to tell it – on version 18.

I kept copies of all those versions.

Now you've seen my 3 foot tall rewrite hell pile.

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