Monday, February 23, 2009

*%$&# Rewrites!

I'm a seat of the pants writer for a reason. I don't want to spend a lot of time plotting and planning and thinking. I just want to write. But we all know a first draft is just that--the first. Usually, it's the first of many.

All of you who enjoy doing rewrites, raise your hands. Hmmm. Yeah, that's what I thought. That one raised hand was just someone stretching out a kink.

Rewrites, at least for me, are an evil, ableit a necessary evil. I want to write my story, be done with it, and move on to the next set of characters demanding my attention.

I just finished the third rewrite of a manuscript I've wanted to submit to a few agents. It was a delicate surgery, determining what to keep, what to remove, and where to bump up the story a few notches. The challenge is to do all of this without losing the essence of the story I wrote in the first place.

I liken the process to that of cosmetic surgery. (Or what I imagine performing such surgery to be like.) You want your manuscript to come out just a little perkier and fresher than it went in. But you want it to be recognizable. You know, not have its eyes up to its hairline, or a smile that won't--can't--fade. You get the picture.

So, how do you manage rewrites? And when do you know the story is finally ready for submission?



Anonymous said...

Amen to all you said. I'd like to move on after the first run-through, too, but it's not meant to be. Not and get published, that is.

After the first draft, I plow my way from start to finish, albeit slowly, adding or deleting as I go, but once I reach the end, that's it! Done!

A writer can spend her whole life going over just one manuscript, driving herself and everyone around her insane. If it's not accepted by a publisher, then it's time to either put it aside or delve into the trouble spots deeper.

I have yesterday's blog entry on if you care to read it and comment.

Carol McPhee
Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.

Carol McPhee:

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the first 2 rewrites, they're kind of fun. Like a sculptor molding and forming raw clay into a smooth statue. But by the time I've read and edited sixteen to twenty times, my brain has gone numb. I've learned to set the script aside for a month and work on another one.

BTW - luv the sunset. Take a gander at the one from my porch on my bio page.

Big Mike

Infogypsy said...

Hand raied! Yeah - it's me - the rewrite queen - 16 edits on my 3rd book coming out in september, Long Run Home. Now I'm rewriting book one (Leave No Trace). To be honest, I really love the process of editing/rewriting. Perhaps it has something to do the different forces that push us to be writers. A lot of people write for the joy of telling a story - i.e., Joyce Carol Oates who I just went to hear at a talk, said that's the reason she writes. There must be lots of other reasons -but for me, I love the sound of the words. I love finding the perfect word. Sounds like I should be a poet rather than a novel writer. I do love the story tellers - without a story, who wants to read a book -Judi romaine (writing as lynn romaine -

Linda LaRoque said...

Hi Linda,
I don't mind rewrites, it's the edits that get me. Checking for those little errors and hide from our brain drives me nuts, especially when I've been through it three or four times already.


linda_rettstatt said...

Well, I'm in the minority here :) A non-writer friend of mine, after listening to my 'I hate rewrites' whine said, "Oh, suck it up. It's your job."

Well, that put things into perspective. We all have aspects of our jobs that we don't particularly enjoy. But we do them for the reward--a paycheck.

I suppose the reward of a polished manuscript that makes it to print should be satisfying enough to get me through the rewrites.

Linda (who is now going back to rewriting)