Rewriting Process

<whine> Rewriting is haaaaarrrd! </end whine>

For me, rewriting is the hardest part of the writing process.  This is why I have so many first drafts and very few finished products! When I’m writing,  I’m  not judging or worrying about being published, especially when I’m doing the NaNoWriMo challenge.  It’s all about creating and letting my imagination loose.  Rewriting, on the other hand, is about looking over what I’ve created and trying to make it publishable.  I am finding a lot of resistance to the process, I think my subconscious thinks that if I never finish, I will never be rejected.  I’m fighting low self esteem, fear of failure, despair, frustration and self-sabotage.  No wonder I keep finding myself procrastinating and distracted during my writing time!

My writing is brief and spare.  The first step in rewriting a draft is to plump it up.  I have the 50K seed from doing NaNoWriMo.  Most publishers want manuscripts from 80-100k for fantasy/sci-fi.  I’m studying the works of Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss and Robert Jordan to learn the ways of being wordy.  I can’t and shouldn’t change my style, which is more like Douglas Adams, but I can get ideas.

The next step is to look at the work as a whole and examine the plot, characters and story arc.  Does it work?  Does the main character have enough conflict and change by the end of the story?  Does she solve her problems or do they just fade away?  Are there things that don’t make sense?  Are there boring bits that need to be cut?

Then we go to line editing.  Spelling.  Grammar.  Using concrete verbs and active voice.

Finally, a last re-read and tweaking of this and that.

In this process, it’s good to have a trusted reader who can tell you their honest opinion.  Don’t pick someone who will say either “it’s nice” or “eh, it didn’t work for me”.  Neither one is helpful.

Then, send it in to a publisher or editor, and start another project immediately.

That makes it look easy.  But what if you do all that and never get published?  Sigh.  Following my new motto- “do it anyway.”




Inspiration is like milk

Ok, you are writing along and then… then what?  You need ideas.  Inspiration.  What happens next?

Waiting for inspiration to strike is like hoping the empty carton of milk in your fridge will refill itself.  You have to go out and get it.  Gather up ideas from everywhere- friends, enemies, random people in the supermarket, tv shows, books, movies, articles and so forth.  Don’t be surprised by where the ideas come from- I just got an idea from a toddler tv show that I’m going to use in my novel.

Is this copying? Is this unoriginal work?  I suppose so.  I suppose all creativity is building on other creativity.  Look at J.K. Rowling- she took things from many different places- Merlin, school stories, mythology and fantasy, and made it her own.

So I’m currently building up inspiration with books about fairies (my story involves an ancient fairy city full of wonders).  So I’m reading:

  • The Fairy Bible by Teresa Moorey
  • The Great Encyclopedia of Faeries by Pierre Dubois
  • Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee
  • The Nightwood by Robin Muller
  • Faeries: Doorways to the Enchanted Realm by Lori Eisenkraft-Palazzola


National Novel Writing Month, November, is here.  For those not in the know, it’s a chance to shed all reservations about writing and just write with literary abandon, with the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month.

I have participated before, and every time I’ve hit the goal.  It is a wonderful experience.  First because you are letting go of judgement.  It’s all about quantity, not quality.  Although you may be surprised at what gems appear when you write without censorship.  Writing that much and with that consistency leads to flow.  Secondly, it is great because you are in it with thousands of like-minded people from around the world.  You finish the month a bit dazed and burned out, but you have made a creation from start to finish.  It’s a bit like running in a marathon.  The sense of accomplishment is marvelous, and it makes smaller challenges seem do-able.

So, you have a goal, a deadline and tools to show where you are along the way.  This is something that everybody needs, whatever they want to accomplish.

Stephen King- On Writing

I was halfway through the book before I realized that Stephen King’s On Writing is basically an auto-biography (the copy I have has been labeled Dewey Decimal 92, instead of 808 for writing).  I was beginning to despair when on page 122 he starts giving some advice.

I don’t think that anyone else could have gotten away with this book, but then maybe that’s the point.  He dares to be himself.  The first part is a biography, the second part is advice on writing, and the third part an account of being run down by a car and his continuing struggle to recover.

I have never been a horror buff, but I have great respect for someone who has written so much that has been transferred to movies and television.  To me that shows that his base ideas and characters have a strong foundation.  It shows that he has a gift for storytelling, one I want.  So I leaned forward to listen, metaphorically, as he imparted his wisdom.

He spoke of writing with the door closed and the door open.  With the door closed, you throw the story on the page, full speed.  With the door open, you invite trusted readers to give their opinion, you ask your inner ideal reader to tell you the flaws.

More gems:

  • “You must not come lightly to the blank page.”
  • avoid passive voice
  • the adverb is not your friend
  • If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.
  • the story exists already, you are just releasing it
  • write for your ideal writer (his is his wife)
  • get feedback- if everyone complains about one thing, fix it, if they all have different opinions, it’s a wash.
  • writing classes could drain your muse by questioning the work in progress
  • get an agent by sending a letter about yourself (this one seems a bit