Rewriting Rewriting Rewriting

This year I had a good, hard (behave yourselves) look at my writing after letting it stew for enough time that it was almost like reading someone else’s book. And then I started to completely rewrite my first book from the ground up in a completely different style. There were personal things along the way that slowed and, at one point, completely halted the project, but I persevered. And now that rewrite is complete. 

Well, I say complete. There will be no new plot points added. There will be no more structural changes. Hell, even the chapter names are pretty much set in stone now. But there will still be edits. Kim is Beta reading the book for me and pointing out problems (dialogue choices that don’t make sense outside of my internal narrative, the odd paragraph that I’ve rewritten several times and left multiple versions in, one quite terrifying contradiction that implies the insects of my world are the size of large dogs) and I’m fixing those problems. Sometimes that’s as simple as changing a word. Sometimes it means rewriting several paragraphs. And sometimes it means taking a favourite line and trashing it entirely. It’s hard, but necessary if I want this to be the book I know I can write. 

After that I’m going to be running my narration (not the dialogue though) through some web tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway that help by pointing out useless words, incorrect tenses, and other mistakes in writing. Of course, to keep this with the flavour I’m trying to give it, I won’t be listening to all their advice. Sometimes the flaws are what gives something character, after all. But it will help me to figure out some of my own weaknesses as a writer, and let me fix this up so it’s a little more professional.

So, with loads of editing before me, I’m kinda done and have moved onto my next project in this phase (I view each main trilogy book and the stories surrounding them as a phase). I always said that I wanted to surround my main trilogy with shorter stories that inform some of the characters who have bit parts in the main books. And I wrote five short stories to go along with the book that I’ve just rewritten. Two of those were beautifully intertwined with events that take place in both, so I’ve picked them out and I’m now rewriting them as a single companion novel. It’ll be a lot shorter than the main book, which in its current edit comes in at five hundred and six pages (with as much cut and deleted as it currently on the page), and I’m aiming for it to have several functions. The first is as an introduction to my world, as I may give this away for free to promote the main book when I start selling. The second function is to serve as a bridge between the main books, as both this companion novel and the main book of phase two will be set in a city that I only mention in passing during the first main book. And, finally, two interesting characters get to have their stories told without it getting in the way of the main story.

Eagle-eyed readers, and those with basic math skills, may have noticed that there are three short stories left from the five I wrote and may be wondering what will happen to them. Well, I’ve slated one for a rewrite as my world has evolved so much since I wrote it that it may as well be in another world. Once that’s complete I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. I may serialise it online or perhaps give it as a value added extra to readers. It all depends on how the market works when I get around to publishing. A second tale is pretty good to go right now, but I’ve some ideas that can help make it better. That one will be released as the start of phase two, with the details again depending on how the market is working by then.

The third one just doesn’t work at all. At the time I wasn’t the writer I needed to be in order to pull something like that off. Now, I’m writer enough to scrap the entire story and take some of the ideas and presentation into the companion novel I’m writing. Though that story has been shelved for now, I will return to it at some time, but probably not until phase three where it would fit better.

For now, I’m concentrating on finishing phase one off. So I’ll keep rewriting this companion novel, then finish the edits on the main book, and then rewrite the short story before moving onto phase two. What’s phase two? Well, like this, it starts with completely rewriting several hundred pages of book so that it’s a better read. The difference this time is that I know now that it will be a better read once that’s done.

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6 thoughts on “Rewriting Rewriting Rewriting

    • It fills the days and I’m enjoying it. Hopefully I’ll one day be good enough to publish.

      And I’ve seen enough writers who churn out something and hurl it onto an ebook site without any thought to editing for spelling, grammar, or even content. There are some really imaginative people out there who, if they just spent that little extra time, could have something special. But they don’t and so they get lost in the mix.

      • I guess a lack of endurance is the reason. There are only a few writers – that I know of – who can write a book, almost effortlessly and it would become a best seller. But sometimes it is just a name that sells the books, like a brand. The rest need to put a lot of effort to make a name and it seems many doesn’t have patience. Too bad.

        • Oh, don’t get me started about names selling a book. Aziz Ansari got three point five million US dollars as an advance for his first book. That price is worked out based on his current and projected celebrity status and how many copies that will sell. Meanwhile, most authors who’ve been in the game for years barely get an advance beyond twenty thousand, and then it’s likely that they’re big names to pull in more money.

          Guys like me aren’t going to sell to a publisher unless we luck out. I could be a lot more talented than I am, and have an amazing book (it’s enjoyable, but not a life changer) and still not sell it if I don’t get lucky and have people read it just as the market is turning towards what I’m putting out.

          I have the endurance to see this through and I know that I’ll just get better as time goes on. It’s been a few years with this as my main hobby, and I feel like I’ve come so far in that time. Each time I’ve hit a plateau I’ve found different ways past it, or learned new skills that complement what’s already there. Like with everything, it’s a learning experience, and anyone who just starts typing and then releases the first thing they’ve written isn’t doing their story justice. I’ve tried that. I wrote a story in a week (a comedic superhero job) just to get out of the world I’d been inventing and see how fast I could write when I set my mind to it. The result was pretty bad; no-one who read it gave me any feedback so it can’t have been good. But it was an exercise and taught me the import of coming back for later drafts of an idea and editing what’s already there.

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