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'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

milk Thu 10-Jan-13 10:33:24

How many words do you have TunipTheVegedude?

TunipTheVegedude Thu 10-Jan-13 10:38:07


It could do with being a bit longer. I think I rushed it a bit towards the end and didn't develop some scenes fully. I have some new subplots to come in and some others to come out.

milk Thu 10-Jan-13 14:29:16

Wow. I am starting to write and I'm at 3,094 words. Any advice?

TunipTheVegedude Thu 10-Jan-13 14:55:47

I think from your posts on the other thread you are doing the right thing, which is just to write and not worry too much about it. I like Write Or Die for if you ever have trouble getting going. And though in general the creative writing books can make you overthink at this stage, there are some really lovely inspirational ones - I just finished Stephen King's 'On Writing' which is really good.

GrendelsMum Fri 11-Jan-13 13:21:33

Thanks for starting this, Tunip! I'm just posting to get it on my 'I'm on' threads and will put down some concrete targets later.

Shall I put 'read Tunip's novel' in my diary for the Easter hols? smile

TunipTheVegedude Fri 11-Jan-13 14:28:07

Yes please GrendelsMum smile

I've been reading my first draft again. This has been made even more enjoyable by a sarcastic voice that has popped up in my head similar to that of Cassandra Parkin's Fifty Shades of Grey critiques which takes the piss every time my writing gets really terrible. I think the delete button and I are going to get to know each other very well in the coming months....

GrendelsMum Sun 13-Jan-13 17:34:49

Hope it's going well... First draft reading can be grim, can't it?

Anyway, I'm just checking in to say I got a couple of chapters edited over the last week, and will try to get another couple done this coming week.

TunipTheVegedude Sun 13-Jan-13 20:54:28

Are you working on the one I read or your 2012 NaNo?

It's very interesting coming back to the first draft. Obviously there is a bit of gloom about just how crap it is, but there are also bits that work that I feared wouldn't, which is nice. And the action scenes that I felt awkward writing are actually the best bits (probably because I worked so hard at them). Because it is historical and I was researching as I went along, there are a lot of bits that are rubbish because they are so vague, but since writing them I've filled in the gaps in my mind so I now have the information to make them specific and much more effective. And in the bits that I had researched before writing, I've made the classic bad historical novelist mistake of putting in far too much of it, which is going to be very easy to deal with smile

GrendelsMum Sun 13-Jan-13 21:31:32

I'm really looking forward to reading yours! You've got your first reader all lined up.

Yes, I'm working on the one you read, attacking the dull patch in the middle. I'm hoping it will be a much pacier read in a couple of month's time. A friend (and published author) read the opening 2 chapters and was very complimentary so I just have to keep the standard up throughout the other 40 chapters!

TunipTheVegedude Mon 14-Jan-13 14:45:24

Gosh, it didn't drag much for me. Is that what other people have said?

Having bought Scrivener and devoted ages to trying to learn how to use it, I've just replotted by the 'arranging lots of little bits of paper on the floor' method. Still using Scrivener for other stuff though.

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows Mon 14-Jan-13 14:49:44

Ooh. Great thread. I'm about a quarter of the way through a first redraft. I just sort of vomited it all out in to a word document and now I have to clean up inconsistencies and the odd tense slip blush I'm aiming to have a polished draft by March.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 14-Jan-13 14:56:04

That's brilliant Chickens! Do you get much time to work on it?

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows Mon 14-Jan-13 15:09:29

Yes, I'm a SAHM with school age DC grin I've written bits and pieces for magazines and blogs, and then got the central idea for the story I'm writing now and just thought 'Go for it'. So I am smile

TunipTheVegedude Mon 14-Jan-13 18:33:02

Sounds good Chickens, that's a few hours every day when you can focus at least. My older two are at school and the youngest at preschool in the mornings so I am not doing badly, though I only really make progress if I work in the evenings too.

theoriginalandbestrookie Mon 14-Jan-13 18:40:11

Actually maybe I should be on this thread rather than the other one.

I'm attempting to write a submission for Mills & Boons ( please don't sneer) and its much harder than I had hopefully imagined.

I have a first draft written, but its only 34k when it needs to be 50k, although now that I'm re reading there is quite a lot needing added, and as I went through the process of trying to complete first draft as quickly as possible and I suspect I lost a bit of interest towards the end blush

I'm not sure if I should rewrite the whole lot before I attempt submission, or if I should focus on the first three chapters and synopsis for submission and then do the rest whilst I'm waiting to hear back.

I definitely feel that I need to get it up to 40k before sending anything in, to make sure that there is enough of a story to get to their required limits.

I work 4 days a week so I don't have a huge amount of time to focus on it ( should be doing it now as DH at beavers, but find that I need to do it in half hour spurts rather than long blocks and have done a wee bit at least)

Anyone well and truly fed up with their characters? I can't wait to get on to something else and write about nice new shiny new ones that don't have as many flaws as this lot!

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows Mon 14-Jan-13 18:54:01

I am eager to finish the current project, because I have a new idea that I really want to run with. I'm being strict with myself and not opening a new word document until this one is finished <sits on hands>

Btw, I am a bit addicted to Mills & Boon. Ahem.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 14-Jan-13 20:04:37

I wouldn't dream of sneering Rookie. I always work on the principle that these things are Harder Than They Look and More Than I Have Ever Managed Myself.

I still love my characters, but then I am pretty early on in the process. Can you make yours more appealing? It just seems to me that if you're sick of them already, the whole thing will feel like a massive chore if you get it accepted and you have to rewrite it again. And I would worry that if I don't like them, that would come across to the reader at some level.

Chickens - I didn't finish my last project. I feel slightly guilty about this but I also think that this one is a far better concept than the last, and also, the last one was YA but this is YA historical which is what I really want to write long-term. Right now I don't like the idea of finishing this one in case I can't think of another equally good, but hopefully that's just what I ought to be feeling at this stage.

GrendelsMum Mon 14-Jan-13 20:11:46

My first ever attempt at a novel (age 16) was a Mills and Boon. And so was my second (aged more like 26) - except the characters kept cracking jokes and trying to be funny, so that one came to an end.

theoriginalandbestrookie Mon 14-Jan-13 20:36:55

I was semi joking - I'm ok with my characters, I don't absolutely hate them.

I think I probably just need to take a full break for a week or so to come back refreshed. If I was lucky enough to be accepted I'd be delighted to do whatever rewrites were necessary. I guess it's just being at the stage of not knowing if it is truly awful and I'm wasting my time or if it actually warrants further work that I'm finding hard. Once I have it polished up I might do a few short stories for a bit of a break.

What type of genre is your project Chickens?

TunipTheVegedude Mon 14-Jan-13 20:48:09


I think at this stage we all have to work on the assumption that what we are doing warrants further work, don't we? It would be worse to make the error in the opposite direction and throw away something that might have been quite ok.

GrendelsMum Mon 14-Jan-13 22:33:54

Yes indeed, Tunip!

I don't use Scrivener for replotting, but for writing and having everything open and searchable at once and being able to put notes in the notes area, I think it's brilliant.

When I re-read it after your notes, I personally thought the middle bit (where she wanders round vaguely talking to people and not knowing what to do) dragged horribly. So I'm souping it up a bit...

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows Tue 15-Jan-13 07:44:27

Hmm, not entirely sure to be honest. It's a sort of supernatural/horror/psychological....thing grin A bit scary. I frightened myself writing some bits blush. The story was so strong to me that I could see it unfolding as if it was a tv programme. That's proved my downfall, as I keep slipping in to present tense. So this rewrite is mainly going through and correcting that, so terribly dull work <yawn>.

TunipTheVegedude Tue 15-Jan-13 09:42:54

Sounds intriguing Chickens! I would love to read it if you need beta readers at any point. I love scary books (the well-thumbed James Herbert novels you find in youth hostels....)
Is there a reason why it can't just all be present tense?

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows Tue 15-Jan-13 20:20:17

Yes. Well, sort of. I found on reading that I was slipping between past and present tense depending on how involved I was with what I was writing at that time. It works best as a story being told after the event, I think. And I might take you up on the reading thing if I ever feel brave enough to let it see the light of day grin.

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