Monday, September 28, 2009

The Requisite Rewrite

I wrote my first book, which totaled about 90,000 words, in eight weeks.

It showed.

Sure, it had a beginning, middle and end. I even had characters with solid emotions and experiences, but what I didn’t have until more recently was a clean story. A clean story keeps the reader moving along without the distraction of flowery writing or too much back story. I thought my first draft was great. I’d even gotten to plug in the word insouciance (always wanted to use that one) but, after reading it through the eyes of different beta readers, I realized that the first draft, basically, sucked. I had dangling modifiers, overboard metaphors and too many adjectives. I had a character who really could have been somebody, if only I let her. Instead, she read like a caricature. I had so many meanderings away from the real story, I forgot where I was going.

Then there was the issue of too much telling. “You need to show, not tell,” says one of my trusted set of reading eyes. “Rather than say ‘I love you,’ have him show it by placing his hand on her lower back and leaning in to kiss her.” Hmmm, I’d have to think about that one.

Back to the drawing board I went and I did so with a vengeance. Like Edward Scissorhands, I went at the manuscript chopping, cutting and tearing. I shredded the first and last chapters. I even resurrected one of my characters who died in the first draft. Too sad. Yes, an agent had said she had to pass on the book because it was “too sad and serious.” This is not why I resurrected my character, although I didn’t like someone describing the book as sad and serious. I brought her back to life because she turned into such a real person, I could not have her die.

The rewrite of book 1 has been more fun than the writing of book 1. I never knew how much power a writer has to rewrite her story, in whatever way she wants. Oh, it’s downright liberating.

The rewrite is ready for a reread. This may sound masochistic (I think a writer needs to be this), but I look forward to more rewrites. I do. It is like the fire purifying the gold, and I wouldn’t want anything but pure gold getting printed with my name on it.

Bring it on!

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