'Books are not written, they are rewritten' - the 2013 revising and editing thread

(381 Posts)
TunipTheVegedude Thu 10-Jan-13 09:17:45

Anyone who already has a draft (NaNo veterans and others?) want to join me for a rewriting thread?

I am working on my draft from NaNoWriMo 2012.

I've never successfully edited a novel before - I've written first drafts and attempted to edit them but never managed to either be ruthless enough, or to really understand what I had to do. This time is different because it's clear that it needs very major work at all levels; the NaNo draft feels like a zero draft rather than a first draft. I've been reading 'how to write' stuff manically over the last month (something I've never really done before) and have a lot to go on. Starting by plotting it again from the ground up, then will work through scene by scene using relevant bits from my first draft but basically starting with a blank page, which I hope means I will not be too attached to any of my previous words. My target for Easter is to get it to a stage where other people can read it and tell me how to change it so I can write it all over again smile

TunipTheVegedude Fri 01-Mar-13 09:25:57

Great to see you GrendelsMum - I was thinking of sending you a PM to ask how it was going but didn't want to seem too stalky!

I agree re polishing the whole thing before sending out 3 chapters - I would definitely do that. I think it needs to be ready to go the same day. I'd be worried I'd panic and get blocked if I had an agent expressing interest and had to work on something fast.

Thanks for saying you're still up for beta reading. I'm on schedule to get it done - I'm 3k from the end now so I'll have 3 weeks or so to go back over and fix all the other things I've noticed.
The language is still going to feel a little unpolished, even by that stage, but it is really getting to the point where I need people to tell me how the story as a whole is coming across.

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 01-Mar-13 11:38:27

Well done Tunip, Grendelsmum and Absy, sounds like you are making good progress.

I have sent off my revised version to Carina, hopefully it meets all of their complex submission requirements. I find it takes me a fair few hours to get everything formatted into the correct version. The good news is that as it's a seasonal collection I should get my rejection hear by the end of March.

It's slow going on the new manuscript. I'm down to forcing myself to do 300 words a day and then hoping I get inspired to do more. It's because when I started the other one I was on parental leave for a few weeks over Christmas so I had a lot more thinking and writing time.

GrendelsMum Fri 01-Mar-13 11:51:22

By the way - one for Scrivener users.

I was very excited to discover that you can export directly into .epub format and the Kindle format, so that you can make it available for beta readers on the Kindle. It took about 5 mins for my DH to get my novel on his Kindle, not that he's read much of it yet.

TunipTheVegedude Fri 01-Mar-13 14:29:01

Just hit the last full stop on Phase 1 of the second draft. It's nearly 68k. I've told dh that if I get run over by a bus tomorrow he's to hire a professional editor and vanity publish it.
Phase 2 will be the bit where I add in all the things I thought of while writing this draft, to make it as good as it can be before it goes to beta readers.

That's great that the epub files are so easy GrendelsMum. I love Scrivener so much. Really, really glad I got it.

Well done Rookie. You are now one of those proper people who has one out on submission and another one you're working on! I'm sure if you stick to the forcing it will start to flow again soon.

GrendelsMum Sat 02-Mar-13 19:30:51

Tunip - Great- does that mean it's ready for Beta reading?

And very hearty congratulations to Rookie!

TunipTheVegedude Sun 03-Mar-13 09:30:00

Nearly. Just got to add some extra stuff, do a read-through and work out where to divide the chapters.

GrendelsMum Sun 03-Mar-13 17:21:20

I'm looking forward to reading it - it sounds like just the kind of thing I enjoy.

theoriginalandbestrookie Sun 03-Mar-13 17:25:16

Thanks Tunip. I'm definitely stuck at the minute plus they changed the submission date on the piece I have entered so I have longer to wait for the rejection so any good thoughts help.

I'd love to read your draft as well.

ImperialBlether Sun 03-Mar-13 18:51:56

Tunip, I was interested to see you are going to sort out the chapters now. Don't you do that as you go along? When you plan your book, do you plan it in sections?

GrendelsMum Sun 03-Mar-13 20:14:03

ImperialBlether - This is a guess, but Tunip is also using Scrivener to write, which encourages you to put your writing into 'scenes' rather than chapters for flexibility at an earlier point. You then organise your scenes into chapters.

From my own experience, it turns out that deciding what goes into a chapter is not nearly as easy as I'd anticipated. You want them to be roughly even in size, or if not even, uneven for a reason. They need to start well and finish well. They need to be in the right order. My DH is re-reading my novel and thinks I have too many chapters.

It just goes on and on...

TunipTheVegedude Sun 03-Mar-13 20:37:40

ImperialBlether, I've been floundering around with planning. It's the first time I've ever really revised properly. So this is what happened, but it isn't a method I would recommend:

-I wrote the whole thing in Word, as a NaNo, in chapters, with minimal planning because I didn't really know what was going to happen. It was clear the plot needed work.
-I read loads of stuff about formal plotting structures and replotted it using a 5 act structure, cutting it into scenes and forming them into acts, to keep the 5 act structure in my mind, then cut and pasted the scenes onto Scrivener and rewrote the draft from the beginning.

I have no idea now whether it will go easily into chapters or whether I'll discover a whole new load of problems as a result of not having planned the chapters from the beginning!

Rookie - thanks, that would be great.

GrendelsMum Sun 03-Mar-13 21:09:14

Tunip - if putting it into chapters turns out to be unexpectedly time-consuming, you have my full sympathy!

Hello. <twists foot whilst looking at the floor> Can I join you? I wrote a book last autumn and I'm working on a sequel for the simple reason that I love my narrator and her family so much I'm not ready to let her go yet. Sent the first book out to six agents a few weeks ago and have had one rejection and one pre-rejection (email acknowledgement saying if I don't hear from them after eight weeks to accept that they're not that into me).

ImperialBlether Sun 03-Mar-13 22:34:49

Arrgh I wrote a response but my computer crashed.

This is how I do it.

When I get the idea for a novel, I usually know whose POV I'll write in. I then start to write a timeline. This can take a while, obviously. Once I've got that, I decide whether I'm going to write in chronological order, or play around with time.

I then write a page per chapter and on that page I'll make a note of the start of the chapter, the end of it, and usually three scenes that will take place within the chapter. Sometimes it's not three, but it's never more.

There are times in the year when I can't write properly, eg when I'm marking loads of coursework. The above exercise is good, then, as I can add bits to it whenever I think of something. The plot and characters will be on my mind all the time and just hearing part of a song or seeing an expression on someone's face will give me something to add to the notes.

I then write the whole thing as fast as I can. I know exactly what'll happen in each chapter, so I don't have to do my usual thing of sitting staring into space, waiting for inspiration. Once it's written I go over it again and again, knocking it into shape.

Wish me luck - I'm at the timeline point once more and I only know a bit of what will happen in this new book.

ImperialBlether Sun 03-Mar-13 22:36:27

Sad-eyed, that's not a pre-rejection! Send it to as many as you can, but make sure it's the sort of book they like to read otherwise you're wasting your time and theirs. Best of luck!

TunipTheVegedude Mon 04-Mar-13 09:24:02

Sadeyed, are you absolutely positive it's as good as you can make it?
Tell me to shut up if I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs here, but a lot of people make the mistake at first of not appreciating how much their books could be improved by getting feedback and redrafting. I never used to understand how deep the process of rewriting could go and I've only recently learnt how many drafts successful writers often go through before they consider a book finished. (I cringe at what state I submitted my last one in - it was only after I'd had a load of rejections, when a very experienced friend was kind enough to tell me exactly what fundamental but ultimately fixable things were wrong with it that I really got what was meant by revision.) Apologies if you knew all this stuff, I just wondered if you had really had time to get it ready for submission if you wrote it in the autumn?

TunipTheVegedude Mon 04-Mar-13 09:38:40

Imperial, that makes a lot more sense than doing it the way I did! I think my next book will be better planned from the start.
I hadn't 'learnt' creative writing at all before I wrote my last novel, or the first draft of this one. I thought I knew how to write because I had published a couple of stories and read a 'Teach Yourself Novel Writing' book that was SO basic I didn't get anything out of it - this was arrogance, basically, but also buying into the pernicious idea that writing is all about talent and can't be taught. blush
Hopefully next time, having assimilated the formal plot structure stuff, I will be in a better position to plan the story properly before I start if I can.

TunipTheVegedude Tue 05-Mar-13 14:33:30

Aww, my dh has just done something lovely. He rang me about something else and I panicked at him about the fact that I couldn't find a reference for a historical event that is crucial to my plot (all the important people in Yorkshire being made to come and watch the execution of Robert Aske) and I needed him to get some books out of the library for me again so I could see if it was in one of them. I was worrying I might have imagined it. Anyway he rang me back 10 minutes later with a reference from Google Scholar smile. And I hadn't made it up, it was all true.

GrendelsMum Tue 05-Mar-13 15:39:52

Oh good. I must say I'm looking forward to reading it.

GrendelsMum Fri 08-Mar-13 08:41:57

Can anyone share some ideas or tips with me regarding keeping the tension and pace going at the end of my novel?

I have my characters locked in a prison cell for 6 chapters, and to be honest, things flag.

They make an escape attept, one of them is dragged off for sinister purposes, and they have some tense conversations. But ultimately its 4 people in one place, not doing anything all that much.

What to do? Have them spend less time in a prison cell? (But I need them to get through a certain number of explanations about what's going on.) Have more drama in a cell (but I've tried to put drama in)?

Thoughts really gratefully received!

GrendelsMum Fri 08-Mar-13 08:47:04

My DH suggested that I could have first one of the other prisoners dragged out for sinister purposes, then my main character dragged out, she could see someothing dramatic (e.g. her best friend also imprisoned and dying), struggle, be overwhelmed by guards, be dragged back into her cell, etc. ...

TunipTheVegedude Fri 08-Mar-13 09:08:35

Think laterally - dreams or flashbacks to vary things a bit?
Or more narrative summary rather than real-time narration so you get through the time a bit faster?
Or can you feed in any of the explanation earlier so there's less to get through, or so it can be a quick-putting-together-of-jigsaw-pieces rather than a fuller explanation?

TunipTheVegedude Sun 10-Mar-13 18:09:00

Rookie/GrendelsMum - I'm doing final formatting then will do a quick read-through tomorrow to make sure all the pages are there and there are no egregious errors, then can send it to you tomorrow.
Would you like a paper copy, a Word doc, Open Office, or epub for Kindle? (Open Office is my default but I don't think it's hard to save as a Word doc.) If I do Kindle I'm not sure if it can go to your normal email address or if it has to go directly to your Kindle email.
Thanks so much for offering to read it!

GrendelsMum Sun 10-Mar-13 19:35:42

I can definitely read Open Office, but if you send me it as an epub as well, I can try reading it on the iPad which might be easier reading.

Very much looking forward to it!

theoriginalandbestrookie Sun 10-Mar-13 19:47:36

Great, looking forward to it.

Kindle would be best for me, but I'm not sure what my email address for kindle is if I have a separate one?
I'm not sure about open office, I think it should work so if you try that way I'll let you know.
At last a legitimate excuse not to progress my own writing smile

I'm mid love scene at the minute so there's a lot of thrusting and heaving - it all gets a bit tiring.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now