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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

BsshBossh Wed 02-Oct-13 22:07:49

Thanks for the hashtag tips. I think reading group fiction is an excellent genre - I may allude to that in my pitch/cover letter.

Any pointers to websites with real-life examples of cover letters/pitches/ synopses? There are several published authors on MN so I might pose the request as a separate thread here.

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 03-Oct-13 08:57:11

This one is very useful because it has the agent she snagged with it commenting on why it worked for her.

BsshBossh Thu 03-Oct-13 20:15:12

Thanks Tunip. She writes very well. Will have a read and a ponder.

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 10-Oct-13 09:17:11


I thought I'd finished the first pass of the last draft but my new opening doesn't work. I need to rewrite it yet again.

I just KNOW I can write this with a killer opening - my heroine has a hawk fgs - but somehow I can't quite get there <bangs head repeatedly against keyboard until eyeballs pop out, skull shatters and head is a bloody stump>

GrendelsMum Thu 10-Oct-13 16:55:48

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that sad Anything I can do to help?

I'm feeling quite chirpy for a change!

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 10-Oct-13 17:36:21

Thanks Grendelsmum. Glad you're feeling chirpy! How's it going?

I've done another version of the start today and it might be better. I need to give it a few days and come back to it.

It's the hawk again but with more and inter-avian violence and peril. It's not quite the full-on adventure beginning it might be but at least it doesn't read like the book's going to be a straight romance. (Found a Youtube video of a merlin fighting off a kestrel - how cool is that?)

I'm finding it really hard to know whether what I'm doing is making it better or just different, but it is possible this means it's nearly time to submit.

I'm going to treat the end of the month as a deadline (so I can do NaNo again) and go all out to hit it.

GrendelsMum Fri 11-Oct-13 09:48:36

Same here - I'm treating the end of the month as my deadline for the currentdraft at least, and I think I'm going to make it comfortably, as I'm almost finished. Last week I was feeling pretty down about how badly it was all going, but the end is now in sight.

The laptop is being repaired as we speak, so that should make a massive difference - I should have had it repaired immediately, but kept struggling on because I didn't want to waste time...

I'll put it away for November, do some kind of Nano equivalent - I'm thinking about using Nano to plot my sequel out scene by scene in detail - and then return for a final pass through to polish and work on style (and perhaps to check on all the clues adding up), and then start sending to agents in Jan. I'm also thinking about asking a few writers I know if they'd be willing to read it, with a view to seeing if they'll recommend it to their agents... My ideal scenario would be someone reading it and recommending it as the best book they've ever read / a reasonable thriller, but I'll see how it goes.

Let me know if there's anything you want me to read.

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 11-Oct-13 12:00:15

Could I send you my latest attempt at the first few pages?
It's not long - I'll bung it in the body of an email. Thanks.

I am really struggling with generally being able to tell if something works or not. I can spot specific things perfectly well (like whether there are too many passives or whether the register of the passage changes) but stuff that is really subjective, like whether something would entice you to read on, is completely passing me by at the moment. I have no flipping clue whether my new opening is the killer start I've been looking for or will undermine the whole book by putting people off.

GrendelsMum Fri 11-Oct-13 12:15:28

Please do - send it over!

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 11-Oct-13 12:16:33

Have done smile

I just need a very quick impression of whether it works.

Thanks x

InMySpareTime Sat 12-Oct-13 16:30:45

Delurking as I'm about to start first edit of my book of fairytales.
It's a new project I'm involved in, to write a book of 100 stories, each 100 words long (Drabbles). From the look of my editor's initial notes, there are a lot of tweaks and some stories that will need taking out entirely (too gory for target demographic!). I've got Monday earmarked to talk through changes with the editor. I have some ideas for replacement stories, just need to put in the work to get them down to 100 words.
I'm currently writing two more books of Drabbles, with an eye on another if enough of my gory stories are worth pitching at an older audience.
It's good discipline anyway, I'm getting at least 5 stories a day done.

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 14-Oct-13 16:44:01

Sounds fun, InMySpareTime.

Oh to write that fast! grin

GrendelsMum Tue 15-Oct-13 10:47:14

Wow - that sounds huge fun! Hope it continues to go equally well. Intrigued by the gory 100 word stories...

InMySpareTime Tue 15-Oct-13 11:19:41

There are actually loads to choose from. Scottish folk tales err on the gory side, as do Norwegian ones.
Greek and Indian tales about war gods definitely have a lot of bloodshed too. The hardest task will actually be narrowing it down to 100.

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 16-Oct-13 18:13:10


I'm just desperate to get this one out of the way and get on with something else. I haven't stopped finding flaws in it, though.

Am getting geared up to submit but feeling less hopeful than I've done for a long time.

GrendelsMum Mon 28-Oct-13 18:13:34

Right, well, I've done it. Spurred on by you Tunip (so any and all rejections are your fault), I've gone and submitted the bloody thing today. Lets see what happens...

InMySpareTime Sun 24-Nov-13 09:10:45

I've published my second ebookgrin
I've also got the first print run of the paperback edition on order, and have pre-sold a fair few of them on the strength of my badly-glued mockup version!
(Can you tell I'm a bit excited about it?)
It's a collection of 100 folk and fairy tales, each exactly 100 words.
I'm keeping busy writing 3 more books for the series (my publisher wants to publish 100 titles, I get a cut of each for formatting and editing them).
What're you lot up to?

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 25-Nov-13 10:28:23

Congratulations on publishing the second book! grin Is it under the same name as the first?

I'm busy on the next book. Trying to make myself write rather than research, but it's a different kettle of fish in that the characters are all real people rather than figments of my imagination, so although they'll be able to evolve as I do the first draft, they will still have to evolve in a way that is consistent with what the actual documentary sources say.

It's kind of fascinating, trying to pull a properly shaped plot out of a mass of things that really happened.

InMySpareTime Mon 25-Nov-13 10:44:57

Same name, via Smashwords.
I'm getting some great writing done on 3 more Drabble Diaries for the series: Gardening, Cycling, and Gory Stories.
The Gory Stories are the most fun to write, as they are totally fiction.
The Cycling and Gardening stories are harder to find inspiration for, as you said, it's harder to draw plots from real events. Even harder when there's a word count of 100 per story to stick to!
Out of 100 stories each, Gardening's on 10, Gory's on 5 and Cycling's on 24. I should really focus on one at a time to get them finished, but I write best when inspired, and having a choice of inspiration means I get more done overall (though it takes longer to finish them).
At some point, one will reach critical mass and I'll feel moved to push on with it to the end.
I seem to have a talent for formatting ebooks, and have slightly accidentally ended up being the person to format all 100 Drabble books as they're finished.
Both my Smashwords titles had no formatting errors whatsoever, which worked in my favour.
Somehow, though my work life is chaotic, I am a meticulous proofreader and formatter. I should find a way to make money from that somehow...

Absy Tue 17-Dec-13 17:32:08

right, I'm back. I finished the novel, submitted the MS to two agents about 6 weeks ago. One came back and said no, other hasn't come back. I'm going to revise (AGAIN. Hopefully having some time away from it will give me fresh eyes and less fed up with it) and send out to some more.

Absy Tue 17-Dec-13 17:33:49

I also have an idea for a second novel, and maybe when I'm on holiday next week and lolling around my in laws I'll have time to do some writing.

InMySpareTime Wed 18-Dec-13 07:14:46

My paperbacks finally arrived, after I ordered them almost a month ago. The printers promised 7-10 days, and failed spectacularly on that!
I presold 52 books, and it was getting very tight on Christmas delivery, I'm getting the far ones posted this morning, and hand-delivering the rest.

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 20-Dec-13 13:05:02

Congratulations on submitting, Absy!

I love writing <happy sigh>

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 20-Dec-13 13:06:04

InMySpareTime - yikes! Self-publishing sounds stressful. Thank goodness you got them in the end.

InMySpareTime Fri 20-Dec-13 18:02:48

Technically I have a publisher, but it's a new company and mine was the first book, so there's been a lot of ground-breaking and learning from experience.
Books are selling well, sold 5 more today, and someone told me they've found my book under their DD's pillow 2 nights running, which I'm taking as a ringing endorsement!

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