Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rewriting is Fun! It's FUN! FUN!!!

Rewriting is hell. I mean fun.

I'm not talking about, "I need to make this sentence active instead of passive," or "This paragraph could be tighter," or "I need to show this scene instead of just telling what happened."

I'm talking about the kind of rewriting where you have a finished manuscript, but you realize something has gone terribly wrong. All the material is there, but it isn't put together effectively. It's like, "Yes, Dr. Frankenstein, you gave the monster two eyes, but one is in his armpit and the other one is inside his left nostril."

When that happens, you just want to take the manuscript out and dig a hole and bury it and plant roses and keep bees and forget you ever wrote anything.

But take heart! You really can rewrite that sucker and live to tell about it.

One way to do it is to organize by high-lighter. Read through, and every bit about Annabelle's inheritance gets highlighted in blue. All the bits about Sir Rodney's spaniel get highlighted in yellow. Every reference to Aunt Euphonia's little problem is highlighted in green.

You can also copy and paste related bits into bits files: a document just for Annabelle, one for Sir Rodney, one for Aunt Euphonia. Or, if you don't like computers, write the bits or their locations on notecards.

If the problem is scene order, print out each scene separately or fill out a notecard on each scene and arrange them, then cut and paste the document into that order. Have a good, concentrated run-through afterwards to make sure the continuity flows. I did this scene shuffle once, and an object kept turning up before it had been acquired, or was missing before it was lost. If you have a friend who is really good at catching inconsistencies, try to persuade that friend to read for you.

Rewriting isn't easy (speaking for myself, anyway), but it's highly satisfactory to have something that doesn't work, take it apart, put it back together another way, and have something that seems seamless and inevitable. And worth all the effort.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes


mooderino said...

You make a lot of sense. Just thought you might like to know.

Moody Writing said...

Ah yes, I find rewriting really difficult on stuff I think is ok, but if i hate it then it's easier :O)

Marian Allen said...

Mooderino, thanks! I don't hear that very often. ;)

Madeline, I agree. If I'm okay with something, I resent criticism initially, then I get over myself and use the criticism to make the okay a little better. :)

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes