Monday, December 6, 2010

Rewriting

"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter."
— James Michener
'Excellent' is too nice a term.  But I certainly like rewriting, exchanging one scene for another, and editing more than the first draft writing, as odd as that sounds.

The last time I had a first draft for a novel was last year's NaNoWriMo, a little over a year ago.  I've written a few new short stories and poems in the past year, though.

With Black Sight, the whole thing was a rewrite.  I've been working on this story with multiple drafts/titles for five years.  This latest draft is the longest I've ever spent editing and refining it.  All the rest, I just started over from the beginning.

I've said before that I'm a short writer.  I'll try to tell the story in as few words as possible.  I did just that for Black Sight.  During the edits, I've found entire scenes that were all tell.  I'd circle it and put, "All telling, no show" in the margin.  Good way to turn a few paragraphs to a few pages.

In my edits, I'm not so much as taking out as adding in.  Sure, some stuff does get taken out and I replace it with something else, but it's mostly adding stuff in.  Things I forget to mention, mostly. 

I'm terrified of having deus ex machinas in my storiesI think I'd rather be predictable by showing the character has a sword and the reader make the prediction that a fight is going to happen, rather than the hero randomly getting into a fight and the sword come from nowhere.

Especially with a character like Naren.  He carries all sorts of odds and ends.  I had to make sure he packed everything before he left home.  (I sound like a mother, don't I?)  Naturally, this was done in the edits and not in the original draft.  (Not a very good one since that it was in a do-over.)

I've got a new theory for my editing process.  One read-through, I'm just going to worry about the plots and plot devices.  I have to make sure the problem is defined early and make sure the story ends once it's resolved.  The next, I'm going to worry about my characters.  Does that mannerism fit that character or should another character have that mannerism?  That'll include dialogue and what they look like, etc.  Finally, I'll do another read-through for world-building, setting, other little elements.

Okay, notice there wasn't a read-through for the grammar or anything like that.  Grammar will be checked in every read-through.


Will it work?  I doubt it.  But it's something I would do.  I'm an expert at thinking up things that'll never work.

Good day and God bless.

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