How much is writing and how much is rewriting?

(14 Posts)
ishallconquerthat Mon 13-Jun-16 23:41:18

I wrote a first draft pretty quickly. And now I'm spending 10 times longer (literally) to make it look half decent.

How much of your time is spent writing something - for the first time - , and how much do you spend fixing it and making it better?

I hear people saying things like "I've written 40k words" and I know that 40k words doesn't mean anything to me, as I still have to spend loads of time rewriting all those ideas to turn those 40k words into something readable.

GetAHaircutCarl Tue 14-Jun-16 06:54:12

I spend longer writing than re writing, which is the opposite of standard wisdom.

In fact I don't much like rewriting and do as little as possible grin.

That said, my first drafts are pretty tight. They're not vomit drafts. I make a lot of decisions beforehand about structure and plot and arc. I know where each character is going. And I write each scene in my head before I type. Often many many times so that it's properly constructed and economical.

It's a system that works for me grin.

ishallconquerthat Tue 14-Jun-16 11:15:42

I try to do that, but when I read a first draft they always look like something written by a teenager with no talent smile

What do you write about, Carl?

My book is turning into some fantasy YA, but hopefully not a long 100k word book.

HarrietVane99 Tue 14-Jun-16 11:27:07

Weirdly, I blogged about this just yesterday!

I tend to rewrite as I go. Any time I sit down to write it's likely to be a mix of new writing and editing/rewriting, so I'm not faced with a massive rewrite when I've finished the first draft. Which is a good thing, as I'm usually sick of the thing by then.

GetAHaircutCarl Tue 14-Jun-16 11:31:41

ishall I have written several crime fiction novels and am now working on a YA dystopian project ( TV series and novel(s) concurrent).

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Tue 14-Jun-16 22:03:15

I think I'm around 50/50, plus after my first read through there was structural/balancing stuff to add which was completely new. So a mix of original, rewrites and new sections. Neither wonder I'm going nuts!

ishallconquerthat Wed 15-Jun-16 13:14:02

Harriet I do a bit of this writing and rewriting at the same time, otherwise I would have nothing useful at all at the end of the first draft... Is there any way I could read your blog? smile

Carl a dystopian YA? <goes back to the dystopian future thread to find out about the book> Sounds interesting! How many books have you written so far? This is my first one and it's been hard!

Fricket it looks like you guys are way more efficient than me ;) What is you book about?

GetAHaircutCarl Wed 15-Jun-16 16:25:55

ishall 8 books so far. Contracted for another two coming out in 2017 and 2018.

The YA project is separate. We're currently in the development stage.

ImperialBlether Wed 15-Jun-16 20:03:42

GetAHairCut are you WF?

TiggyD Wed 15-Jun-16 22:07:28

My rhyming picture books were mostly about re-writing, but as I've got better at them my first draft needs less editing. I've learnt from my mistakes.

For me it's a matter of leaving a draft until I can come at it with fresh eyes and see the problems with it, then tweaking. Then repeating. Then repeating. Then rep...etc

And seriously, 40,000 words?! Fuck that. Mine are 600-800. How do your fingers not wear out?

GetAHaircutCarl Thu 16-Jun-16 07:20:00

Imperial yep 'tis I!

I'm name changing more frequently now wink.

ishallconquerthat Thu 16-Jun-16 12:42:07

Carl sorry if you've answered this question (a thousand times) already, but how did you get to the point of being commissioned books? It sounds like some sort of utopian fantasy, people not only wanting to publish a book of mine, but actually committing top publish it before I even write it smile

TiggyD I have no idea! After writing and rewriting I read the "final" text aloud and tweak and read and tweak until if feels smooth.

Maybe that's why I'm taking so long with a short-ish book.

GetAHaircutCarl Thu 16-Jun-16 12:57:17

ishall my first contract was won the usual way.

I wrote a ( far from perfect) novel and submitted it to some agents. I signed with one who punted it around publishers.

My first deal was for three books. All to be part of a series.

This was before the recession though and things were easier in the industry.

Since then I haven't been commissioned as such, I've just renewed my contract. Basically, I send in a proposal for the next book(s) and they make an offer ( or not).

I suppose I've proved I can write, can meet deadlines and that the books sell well. What the book is actually about is of less interest to them in all honesty. I'm a safe bet.

The YA project is different. I have no track record in this genre. And although I've written and sold a few scripts, I've done nothing like this ( a new and entire series from scratch). So this has been like going right back to basics with me having to do a lot of work in advance before anyone would even look at it, let alone commit to it.

ImperialBlether Thu 16-Jun-16 14:50:40

You certainly are namechanging a lot! I can't keep track of who's who now.

I think the more you write the less you have to rewrite.

I've just written my fourth book - first to be published traditionally, but I had the other two on Kindle and the first was consigned to the bin.

When I sent my agent the full draft it was 73,000 words long and I knew it was too short. She put her red pen through about 15,000 - 20,000 words - it was like a death! - but she was right, it was slowing everything down. She gave me a few ideas eg 'make the middle more tense' and 'show why x happened' and I resubmitted it at 90,000.

It got bought and the editors knocked a couple of thousand words out (for the same reason) and forced me to think deeper, and the resubmission was 101,000. Hopefully that's it now. Apart from odd word changes due to repetitions etc, all the original is still there; I've just added to it.

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