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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

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 11:17:24

I found reading Grendel's quite a useful process for me (as well as enjoyable) - it helps focus your mind on your own work to critique someone else's.

I am trying not to panic now about the fact that I am cutting so much out of the beginning, to make it start more energetically, that it has a knock-on effect through the rest of the book - some of my characters feel unbalanced, and there's crucial information that needs to be slipped in somewhere else. Also I'm worried it will end up too short.

I think it was A.S. Byatt who described the process of rewriting as like lacing up a long boot - each bit you tighten means that there are loose bits elsewhere that need to be pulled through, and you have to do it several times till you get it right.


GrendelsMum Wed 16-Jan-13 15:44:18

Oh, don't worry about that whole 'my beginning is boring' bit, Tunip - I went through everything you've said about 8 months ago and I've survived to come out the other end, so I'm sure you will too!

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 15:53:04


You mean you survived by cutting loads, or by deciding you didn't need to cut loads?

GrendelsMum Wed 16-Jan-13 16:02:54

Oh no, I cut loads because it was boring, and did all the agonising that you're going through. And it all worked out!

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 16:05:01

Cool smile

Will press on.

LilyBolero Wed 16-Jan-13 16:06:54

Is that the November novel writing thing? Dd did that too!

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 16:26:53

Yes. Is she doing anything with her draft?

LilyBolero Thu 17-Jan-13 10:00:07

I don't think so - she is 9, and I think the thought of revisiting it all, editing it all would be too much! The school ran a club throughout November, and they are going to put all the completed stories, printed, in a book, in the library.

TunipTheVegedude Fri 18-Jan-13 18:09:44

That's great Lily. How long was it? What did she write about?

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 18-Jan-13 21:10:55

That's wonderful Lily, how great that the school really encourages them to become authors at that young age.

I have found a great site - apologies if everyone knows about it already. Its called grammarbase, you copy and paste in your stuff and then they check the grammar for you.

I went to a wonderful session last night, Mills & Boons Erotic Writing. Can't see myself writing erotica particularly but there were some very useful tips about the other series as well, oh and I got contacts ! So I'm very inspired and am polishing up my three chapters to send off, then I'll need to do synopsis and cover letter. I don't think they will ever be perfect but I guess I need to take the plunge at some stage.

LilyBolero Sat 19-Jan-13 10:33:03

She wrote a Jacqueline Wilson-esque novel about a girl in a children's home, but it turns out to be a magic children's home, and although it was grey on the outside it was really fun on the inside.

It was 25 pages, about 2500 words.

TunipTheVegedude Sat 19-Jan-13 10:36:08

That's great Rookie!

If you need anyone to glance through your submission before you send it off, just shout.

theoriginalandbestrookie Sat 19-Jan-13 11:40:43

Turnip that's a wonderful offer. I'm so worried it's completely rubbish. Could you PM me your email address and I'll send it across.

TunipTheVegedude Sat 19-Jan-13 11:45:38

Yes, no probs.

theoriginalandbestrookie Sat 19-Jan-13 11:47:02

I'll just send the first chapter so as not to overwhelm you completely !

theoriginalandbestrookie Sat 19-Jan-13 14:11:19

Thank you so much Tunip for your feedback - have emailed you as well.

The website where you can put stuff and get feedback is apparently you need to provide a certain level of feedback per month and in return people will review your input.

I haven't put mine there because I'm frightened because as it's Mills and Boons I was worried people might try to read it from a more literary perspective, but thought it might be helpful for people to see.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 18:11:15

My rewrite is a disaster. I'm trying to write it better and have just ended up over-writing it, which is not usually something I do. I'm just trying too damn hard. I don't know how to let go a bit.

GrendelsMum Mon 21-Jan-13 18:20:58

No, no Tunip. Your re-write is not a disaster. You're learning how to re-write, which is harder than drafting. Seriously. (Luckily this is my second novel that's got as far as re-writing, and so I knew it would be awful.)

I recommend
a) go to a good creative writing course that will focus on appropriate skills
b) buy te book that someone recommended me on the 2012 write a novel thread
c) if you like, send me a few pages of the original and how you've re-written it and I'll try and help out.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 18:39:37

Was that Self-Editing For Fiction Writers? I have read that one (and it is excellent).

I spent a lot of Christmas working through various creative writing books and doing some of the exercises. I think maybe I've taken in so much stuff that when I write I'm so busy trying to remember it all I forget about the story I want to tell. Or I focus so much on how I'm telling the story I can't just get on and tell it.

GrendelsMum Mon 21-Jan-13 18:46:17

Ah yes, that's the book.

Maybe you just have to work through this stage? It's like ballet or playing the piano - keep going, and you'll come out the other end able to put all these things into place automatically.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 18:50:42

That is a good analogy, thank you.
Yes, practice....

I think with the first draft it's very liberating when you keep telling yourself it doesn't matter if it isn't very good because it's only a first draft. That's why NaNoWriMo is so productive. I need to try and tell myself something similar about the second draft, I suppose!

FiveHoursSleep Tue 22-Jan-13 09:50:23

Right, I've finished the first draft of my travel book , which I plan to self publish as an ebook.
I have got a number of photos I'd like to include with the book. At what point do I start saying where they should go? Now? There is a lot of work to do on the text, maybe photos are just going to distract me from the horrific amount of work I have yet to do?

camgirl Tue 22-Jan-13 09:57:13

Can I join please? I'm at around 62,000 words too and have been working on this project since last May (ish.) Probably a lot of it will go. The characters reveal more of themselves as I write, driving the plot in different directions. Then I have to go back and sharpen everything up. Plus initially I was going back and forth chronologically and am gradually writing that out. It feels like a lot to do right now.

I find it difficult to edit on screen too; I always have, except for short pieces (used to be a journalist.) Right now I'm going over this draft as much as possible before pressing the print button on 100+ pages.

I have a DS 6 at school and a DS 3 in part-time nursery. Strangely I find myself most productive at night though when I know I'll get a long uninterrupted stretch. No sooner have I dropped DS2 off then it seems I have to go and collect him again!

Hope everyone else is getting some work done.

Absy Tue 22-Jan-13 10:00:43

Hello - may I join?

I have a largely written novel which I'm editing, then editing some more, and then editing some more. It's the motivation to keep going and finding the time to do it at the moment.

I have around 46k words (which is a bit too short for a novel) so need to add some more quality writing (not just any old crap to get the word count up, like I did at university). One thing is that it's kind of two parallel stories, so I've just "extracted" the bits on the second story and am reviewing that at the moment, with a view to fleshing it out.

I had originally planned to finish it by the end of Jan, so I'll see how I got. The pressure's on.

FiveHoursSleep Tue 22-Jan-13 10:18:16

Oh yes, and for those who have finished an edit, how many words did you end up with compared to the number you started with?

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