Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Twisted Tuesday: Examining REWRITING, Step 1

Writing partners are critical to a writer's inner and outer growth, confidence, and stride. Even more so when a writer is in the trenches of a WIP.

In deciding to completely rewrite my current YA novel, I had to examine all the elements of the story as well as my reasons or motivation for REwriting my manuscript. I also needed to develop a process to follow as I did the rewrite. It's almost starting over, but not really from scratch.

Today, I'm going to explore the first steps I took and share them with you.

STEP 1 was to decide if I should do a total rewrite or a total revision. I've written on the topic of REwrite vs. REvision, if you're interested.

For me, I needed to dissect what about my story sparked the agents who'd been interested during my first go-around. Any of you can do this, whether you've had perspective interest or not. Find a few good beta readers and let them have at the manuscript. Ask what struck them about the story and where, if ever, they felt disconnected with characters, storyline, back story, voice, or your prose. Don't necessarily worry about grammar and such at this point.

I'd been told the writing was good and all said agents were in agreement that the voice was strong and the story as unique as they've read, which all seemed to be excited about. So why not sign me? After chatting with a few more experienced author friends (they are gems; find some - GA, AE, LM, Roza), I realized it was probably the reorganizing of the story an agent might need to guide me through, getting the book marketable-ready for publishing houses.

So, I broke down each chapter, scene by scene, and examined every nook and cranny. While doing so, I brainstormed, let my mind go where it wanted to. I discovered by adding an extra plot-twist to the story I could combine certain elements and eliminate some characters and scenes. Sounds like more writing yet thinning out the story? Not really.

I started seeing the story through the scenes. Forest through the trees. My mind had been so focused on the main story plot and character arcs that I'd missed shorter routes the characters could take to achieve the same means. I'm not talking about shortening the story, but about writing a concise story as a whole. It must be done piece by piece = scene by scene.

You can have 8,000 scenes (wouldn't recommend it, but you could), and as along as each sentence, paragraph, and scene are written with forward momentum sometime meaning letting the characters take a shorter route from point A to point B, you're golden. The reader will keep wanting more. That's the point, isn't it? Of course, there are always exceptions to this. They're may be a valid reason for you to write an extra five scenes to move a character from one place to another. Just make sure every twist, pivot, and curve has a purpose.

This process takes time, so be patient with yourself.

My PROGRESS for the ROW80 slowed down a bit this week due to my being sick and having to host my oldest's prom dinner. (I'll blog about it on Friday. So bring your prom  or not-prom memories.) I was able to write almost 5,000 words. With adding this extra plot-twist, I came to the point last Thursday where I knew an important decision needed to be made but I just couldn't make it. STEP 2 in Examining REWRITING will be the slump in the middle of a scene.

Please take a peek at the three lovelies who are in this ROW80 with me, who never give up, and without whose accountability I wouldn't be as far as I am in my REwrite.


LINKY: Head over to Stina's blog and congratulate her on reaching 500 followers!! ENTER her contest/giveaway, too!!


  1. That's great that you've gotten such great feedback and that you're willing to analyze the problems chapter by chapter. Funny, but yours is the third blog post today about revision. You're all psychic.

  2. "I'd missed shorter routes the characters could take to achieve the same means."

    Sheri -- This is a really important one! And it is SO hard to see, especially for me, since I'm a pantsterer in my drafting. The story comes out of my subconscious in the first place, so it's really important to find the places where something convoluted and drawn out can become something more streamlined, simple, and perfect.

    And there's nothing like that AHA! moment when the answer comes to you! (Right before you feel silly for not having seen it all along.)

  3. The very first novel I've written will have to be completely rewritten and this is helping me set up the ideas!

    Talk about scared though. I have two new plot bunnies and I've decided for once in my life I'm going to outline. I've written about 10K for each story and feel that I've got a great start. Let's see if I can help myself on the revision end by knowing what's going to happen before it does :)

  4. That's some awesome progress!! 5000 words! Very nice.

    And tackling a scene-by-scene rewrite is daunting - good for you for having the courage to plow ahead. I know you'll be happy that you did!

  5. Rewrites are insanely frustrating, but I often find them to be much, much more effective than just revisions. I know of some authors who ALWAYS completely throw away their first draft and do a structured rewrite, once they've gotten the emotional heart of the story in their minds.
    Best of luck!

  6. Call me nuts, but love to re-write. I can focus on specific parts, not worry about tying up the thread because I've already done that; I just need to do it better.

    Congrats on the progress, Sheri. Really wonderful

  7. I've been re-writing and revising at the same time for the last six months. I can only hope and pray that as I become more experienced it won't take this long every single time.

  8. Awesome it's working for you! My brain hurt just reading this.

  9. Wow. Excellent post, Sheri, and AMAZING progress! I love what you said about shorter routes for your characters--I never thought of that one. :-)

  10. Great thoughts on revisions. I am revising one as we speak. And another one that needs major rewrites. All this talk about rewriting/revisions is making me tired. I need a nap and it isn't even noon here!

  11. Yes that forward motion is so crucial! My problem is I think I had good forward motion, but my scenes still meandered - like a fast flowing river with big loops in it! So that's the re-write, chopping off some of those loops and bringing important plot elements into the story sooner. So glad to see this is a Part 1 post on re-writing. I'm excited to see what you'll share next as we get through our re-writes together.

  12. Awesome stuff, Sheri! Thanks for sharing. I hadn't thought about a shorter route, but it totally makes sense. And congrats on making so much progress.

    Hope you're feeling better. I know that prom dinner will be a Kodak memory. Have fun!

  13. Sounds like you're making great progress! Good luck, and I hope you're feeling better.

  14. I'm working through final edits on book #3 right now, and then comes the ugly task of rewriting book #2. It's a mess. I think you're spot on when you mentioned writing in scenes. I think your process makes a lot of sense, and I'm sure your book will shine when you're through.

  15. oh, man. ((hugs)) I can only imagine how daunting the idea of a complete rewrite must be. I wrote like four different MSs to avoid rewriting my first novel! LOL!!!

    I'm very amazed by you. You're an inspiration to me, and you rule~ <3

  16. This is some great advise, Sheri. I pretty much had to do the same with my first novel.

    I give you so much credit for dissecting your novel chapter by chapter. I is hard to let go of characters or scenes we love. I cut a book out of mine.

    Keep up the good work and keep us posted on your successes. We all need to cheer you on as you get closer to that coveted contract.


  17. This is great, Sheri. I'm glad it is working for you. Wow, 5000 words plus hosting a prom dinner, I'm impressed. :)

  18. Good for you to keep at it like that, Sheri. It takes a lot of stamina and endurance, it ain't easy. I've learned to merge characters too, that too much can prevent our stories from succeeding like we want. With every story, we learn something, so none are wasted. Keep at it!! :)

  19. I like breaking things down into scenes, too. Sometimes it's so hard to know where to plunge in, and looking at things in smaller bites can make it easier!


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