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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

TunipTheUnconquerable Sat 10-Aug-13 09:03:06

Don't worry, I'm very slow at the moment due to summer hols. I have a day to myself on Sunday and am going to go and read my draft in a coffeeshop.

InMySpareTime Sat 10-Aug-13 09:48:11

I am finding very little time to write or edit anything. Our house seems to be some kind of community hub for neighbourhood children.
I hate it when people say "how's the writing coming along?" and I have nothing to show for two exhausting weeks.
How do you folks get anything done in school holidays?

TunipTheUnconquerable Sat 10-Aug-13 10:04:07

I'm not, much. These hols are awful. I have a just-potty-trained 3yo who is constantly wanting me to go to the toilet with him, which cuts into the time when I'm not doing activities with the older two.
And I'd forgotten how much extra housework and cooking they generate when they're at home all day and not having school dinners.
Plus dh is having a horrible time at work so it's hard to write in the evenings.

My two main strategies are 1. DEMANDING time to myself at weekends and 2. focusing on the simpler tasks that I can do even with constant interruptions.

ninah Sat 10-Aug-13 17:59:39

like the name change, turnip!
agree the holidays are difficult, the lack of routine kinds of percolates through everything
the major thing that's helped me has been a leg injury, tbh, although I wouldn't recommend it for any other area of life, for writing it's been amazing! oh, yes, and divorce ... when dc go to their dad's I'll have a whole week to write in. Yippee!

ninah Sat 10-Aug-13 18:00:18

tunip, sorry blush

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 13-Aug-13 10:19:31

Sorry to hear about your leg injury, Ninah, but I'm glad it had a silver lining!
GrendelsMum, did you finish my book?

My coffeeshop-based book-reading was not a happy experience. I am holding fast to Wordfactory's post about not always knowing how good your own writing is.

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 13-Aug-13 11:13:36

Just got your email, Grendel. THANK YOU! I will read as soon as I can get the kids to stop squabbling so I can hear myself think smile

GrendelsMum Tue 13-Aug-13 11:17:45

Great! Would you potentially be up for reading the first 5 (or poss 10) chapters of mine, to see if pace and characterisation has been stepped up?

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 13-Aug-13 11:39:22

Hell yes, I would absolutely love to! Send it whenever you're ready.

GrendelsMum Sat 31-Aug-13 10:51:46

We can't let the 2013 revisers thread disappear, even over the school holidays!

So I'm checking in to say where I'm up to. Currently on my fourth (?) draft, I believe, heavily editing for characterisation and dialogue, and particularly for character-driven suspense. I'm inspired by Donald Maass's book Writing the Breakout Novel, and in particular, his idea that suspense is not about what is happening, so much as our emotional connection to the person that its happening to. For some reason, I seem to keep pulling back on the emotions - maybe because I'm trying to tick off various elements in the plot so that the mystery has all the appropriate clues given by the end? But the result is that chapters that should be sinister and scary are a little flat.

I read a great example of the power of emotional connection with the character recently, in one of C.M.Forester's Hornblower novels. All that's actually happening is a man trying to get to his new job, with his heavily pregnant wife and their toddler, and hitting a few delays. But the suspense and the tension is palpable. Great writing!

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 09-Sep-13 11:51:21

Started it last night, GrendelsMum. Very much enjoying it.

Other than that, I'm just checking in to keep this in my 'threads I'm on'. 3yo is back at preschool next Mon and then I can make some proper progress on my 4th draft. It's been a long and frustrating summer.

GrendelsMum Mon 09-Sep-13 19:03:35

If you've just started, I could send you the even more recently updated version - now with added Romance Ekement!

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 09-Sep-13 19:54:12

I'm halfway.

Yes, please send the most recent version.

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 09-Sep-13 19:55:37

I was pondering the 'should there be romance?' question earlier and thinking yes.
So far, I'm finding Hank appealing from the get-go but it takes longer to connect with Lucille.

GrendelsMum Tue 10-Sep-13 08:44:24

Damn damn damn damn damn. Was hoping that I'd nailed her a bit more.

I guess one out of two is half-way there!

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 25-Sep-13 13:20:56

Hi all, just checking in.

I'm finally back at my desk and ecstatic to be there. (Preschool was closed for the first two weeks of term, then I had massive computer problems which wiped out my first week of child-free time.)

I need to:
-rewrite the opening to make the tone match up better with the rest of the book
-do major editing through the whole book and especially the first half to clarify and sort out motivations particularly in relation to the heroine's emotional journey and complicated love life
-do various general bits of rewriting to sharpen up description and make the most of some of the extra research I've done in the last few months
-do that thing where you read the whole book aloud to check for infelicities, especially in dialogue
-finally go through and cut out every single word I can cut out
-proofread repeatedly and submit.

My biggest fear is that the whole thing might just be too emotionally complicated for YA, but I'm hoping once the motivations and relationships are all a lot clearer in my head and on paper it won't look like such a spaghetti-like tangle.

How is everyone getting on? Anyone else got moving again now the school holidays are over?

bunnybing Thu 26-Sep-13 14:50:48

Hi - am saying hello as am a bit of a lurker in creative writing. I feel like edited and edited and edited my novel - have sent it off to a few agents but no luck.

It's funny you should say about that CS Forester novel Grendel'sMum as DH has just bought the lot - can you remember which one?

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 26-Sep-13 15:11:03

Hello smile

What sort of novel is it?

bunnybing Thu 26-Sep-13 22:36:57

It's contemporary fiction. The plot involves crime but I don't think it's fast-paced enough to be described as crime. To be honest I've spent a lot of time stressing over exactly what genre it is!

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 27-Sep-13 12:42:10

GrendelsMum has had similar 'what is my genre?' angst.

I think she pinned it down in the end though!

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 01-Oct-13 11:01:27

Done my new opening smile

It might be better or it might be worse though, not sure.

BsshBossh Wed 02-Oct-13 13:40:07

Just checking in after a long haitus from this thread. Going over the 8th review/draft of my novel now, also finally beginning to think about the synopsis for (agent) submission, and trying to work out which similar authors have which agents. I think I've worked out my genre - "upmarket women's fiction" - literary but with mass appeal (I hope) grin. Really thinking now about how I market/pitch myself too.

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 02-Oct-13 16:22:17

Hey BsshBossh!
It's lovely to see you back.

I hope I would have the stamina for 8 drafts if it turns out I need them. I am on my 4th and at the moment it looks like it's going to have 5 passes:
1. Motivation and character, adding new research
2. Sharpening description and flat language wherever possible (incl boring dialogue beats and passives in new bits)
3. Register of language, naturalness of dialogue
4. Pace, & cutting any surplus words
5. Typos
I'm starting to flag tbh. Don't know where I'll find the energy from if I need another draft after this one.

BsshBossh Wed 02-Oct-13 16:31:24

Hi Tunip. They're not 8 complete re-drafts - I think the last 3 or 4 have been re-reads with tweaks, changing words here and there, checking grammar and spelling. I would say the book's had 3 complete re-writes.

Good luck with your next "pass through". I'm rubbish at contributing to this thread but I do lurk smile

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 02-Oct-13 20:43:48

Thanks Bssh.

Is 'reading group fiction' a genre these days? I lot of agents seem to have it on their wishlist.

I find Twitter very useful for sussing out agents. They do a lot of tweeting of wishlists on the #mswl and #agentwishlist hashtags. (You can easily search on the hashtags without having to be signed up to Twitter.)

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