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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 Fri 08-Feb-13 21:55:22

Have a nice weekend BsshBossh.
My problem is nicely sorted and I am on 35.5k, so am storming through, though it's half term next week so I'll only have evenings to work in.

starsandunicorns Mon 11-Feb-13 03:27:59

Am in awe at you all. I have a story it was my disatation for my degree its only 9k long lots of people have read it said i should expand it but no way could i do 40k so maybe thinking of a novelle. any thoughts on this would be welcome.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 11-Feb-13 10:00:13

You should just go for it Starsandunicorns smile It's so much fun.

No Plot, No Problem is supposed to be a good book about how to get going though I haven't read it myself.

Becoming a Writer is a very much loved book (from 1934!) that says a lot of sensible things, not least, a writer is just someone who writes; if you want to do it, you need to organise your life so that you will have time and space to write in.

There's a 'starting to write a novel' thread you could join, too.

BsshBossh Mon 11-Feb-13 10:11:41

Hello! Stars I would just crack on with it, a little at a time - a hundred words here, a hundred there. Set a timer and say you'll just write for 10 mins - you'll most likely find yourself writing for longer. When I was stuck a few years ago I joined the 2011/12 writing a novel threads and made myself accountable by posting daily word counts.

Anyway, I won't get much if any writing done this week because we've got building work going on in the house. Half term's my best bet as DD is booked into a week long drama club grin. So will post back at half term.

Happy writing and editing both of you (and lurkers).0

theoriginalandbestrookie Mon 11-Feb-13 17:56:41

I don't know if it was someone here who recommended it but I'm half way through Stephen Kings "On Writing". It's a tremendous book and it's giving me much more of a clue about what I actually need to do in editing - also helpful for writing too, he has a very workman like approach.

I had a thorough review in the car on the way home from Center Parcs ( and made myself car sick in the process) and based on his advice have been doing a lot of cutting out.Good job I'm actively trying to reduce the numbers rather than increase grin

TunipTheVegedude Mon 11-Feb-13 18:31:03

Hello Rookie smile

How was Centreparks?

It was me that recommended the Stephen King book. I loved it. I like the bit where he says actually it wouldn't be that great to be in a writer's retreat with no distractions because you'd just get blocked and it's better to have real life impinging from time to time because it reminds you writing isn't the be all and end all.
Very reassuring when you are trying to write with 3 kids in the house....

theoriginalandbestrookie Mon 11-Feb-13 18:46:56

Hi Tunip CP was great, DH threw himself into activities with DS so we had an action packed time with friends. Very little writing though as we were busy all the time. I toyed with giving my manuscript to my friends to read, but one was researching for an interview and then we weren't there that long... more random mundane excuses.....

Yes I like the way SK is very matter of fact about things and says 1000 words a day minimum (gulp). Have done very little lately with all my fannying about with editing. But I can see now what I think needs to be done, so I'm going to type up the changes and have another look.

Sounds like your editing is going well?

BsshBossh Mon 11-Feb-13 19:44:11

Right, must finally read that Stephen King writing book. It's been queued in my Kindle for over a year! I'll read it in lieu of getting any editing done to keep my hand in grin. sob, my house is a mess of builders' dust

TunipTheVegedude Mon 11-Feb-13 20:34:30

You could skip the biographical section and just read the craft bit.

Glad it was fun Rookie! I wouldn't give a manuscript to a friend to read unless they were really keen.

Half term today so no writing time sad Otherwise it's been going well; the second half needs a lot less reorganisation than the first and there aren't any more bits to fill in from scratch, just existing scenes to improve, so I'm hopeful it will be a lot faster than the first half.

theoriginalandbestrookie Mon 11-Feb-13 20:59:52

Bssh - I must confess I wasn't keen to start it - something to do with the worthy title I think.

But I loved it. I found the autobiographical part really inspiring - nice to know that Stephen King started with a bundle of rejections and almost didn't write Carrie. It's definitely got me back to the story as before I must admit I wasn't too sure what I was meant to be editing for.

Now all I need to do is to save everything in the right format, rewrite the synopsis to the new required length and redo my rather embarassing covering letter.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 11-Feb-13 21:39:25

His attitude to rejections was great wasn't it? grin
With these people who've had massive success apparently quite early on, it's reassuring (as well as inspiring) to see how long and hard they've been working before they get to that point. He was evidently taking a very hardheaded and professional approach to submitting work when he was still a teenager.
I like the bit where he meets his wife and realises they have a similar attitude to crafting their writing, even though he writes horror and she writes poetry.

Actually maybe you shouldn't skip the autobiographical bits!

TunipTheVegedude Wed 13-Feb-13 19:54:26

40k. Getting exciting.

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 15-Feb-13 15:46:11

Hows it going everyone? I'm veering between editing and writing the new one - means I have good excuses for not really progressing either !

TunipTheVegedude Fri 15-Feb-13 16:02:11

45k, but it's been half term so I haven't had much time.
I just got a new book from Amazon about Tudor costume which has photos of people in seriously well-researched replica costume and I'm gazing in awe at the photos, they seem like real Tudors come to life.

TunipTheVegedude Tue 19-Feb-13 10:50:01

How's it going? I'm struggling to get back into it again. I hate having to stop.

theoriginalandbestrookie Wed 20-Feb-13 22:22:24

Not well, wrote 300 words at the weekend, seem to be a bit lacking in motivation at the minute and I have a bit of a cold so mumsnetting much more appealing than writing

TunipTheVegedude Thu 21-Feb-13 10:54:16

Mine's still not going very well and I am losing my writing day tomorrow with doctor and dentist appointments, damn it!

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 22-Feb-13 13:07:35

Editing is hard work because you really need to be at the computer to make changes.

I've found that with writing I get so much more done outside the house as I have less distractions - it's a pain having to type it into the computer afterwards but it doesn't take as much concentration.

Have made some progress I did a few pages last night and this morning so I'm feeling more positive again - my enthusiasm comes in bursts and I'm beginning to realise that sometimes taking a break isn't the worst thing I can do, provided I get back to it fairly quickly, if that makes sense at all.

TunipTheVegedude Fri 22-Feb-13 14:59:14

Really glad it's going better for you.

Do you have a good computer workspace? I don't find it hard work to be at the computer particularly but then I do have an lovely teeny little office in the loft conversion which is probably my favourite place in the house.

This sounds really pathetic but I think part of my problem has been that I've been reading 'Revolution' by Jennifer Donnelly and it's just so good it feels like something I could never even aspire to so every time I go from that back to my own work all I can see are my deficiences. Then today at the bus-stop I started on something by a different author which is fine and was well-reviewed but doesn't seem so unachievable IYSWIM.

Also read Aristotle's Poetics last night which made me laugh - quite a bit of it is exactly the same as the stuff they put in creative writing textbooks to this very day.

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 22-Feb-13 15:47:16

The computer area is fine, we have a study but I just find that I work better on paper. I think typing in front of a computer makes it too easy for me to be in constant edit mode whereas with actual writing it flows more readily iyswim. The time spent typing isn't truly wasted as I use it to do a small amount of editing.

Even when editing it only started to make sense when I followed the Stephen King instructions and printed out the manuscripts to make amends. I'm probably an old luddite, I must admit I don't enjoy reading books on my kindle as much as a paperback, particularly the new Kindle Fire that DH kindly got me for Christmas. It's just another outlet for mumsnetting, like I needed another one of those to distract me hmm!

I know what you mean about reading other authors and worrying if I am any good. The difference between us Tunip is that you have confirmation that you can write. You have had two sets of agents/publishers interested in what you have written - so keep going I'm sure your book will be excellent.

Do you think you will meet your aim to have a version ready for viewing by Easter?

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 22-Feb-13 15:48:20

Sorry if I sounded a bit too directive there ....

TunipTheVegedude Sat 23-Feb-13 11:33:57

Thanks Rookie x

Yes, it will still be ready for the first round of beta readers by Easter. It's got to be, frankly. If I'm very unhappy with it I'll send it to fewer people, though.

I know what you mean about writing flowing more easily on paper. You delete less and there's the satisfaction of seeing the ink scrolling across the page and the pages getting filled.

Absy Mon 25-Feb-13 16:20:28

Right, I'm back again. I'm re-editing <sigh> again the first chapter, but after moving some stuff around I think it makes more sense. I've also written at the top of the chapter what I hope to achieve from it, which I knew before but now it seems more focused. I'm also getting ruthless.

Hopefully will get first three chapters perfect (the rest is okay) then send them out! But first I need to get DH to read the novel, get his views (his initial views were very heklpful) and then do the really terrifying bit ... sending it out.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 25-Feb-13 21:22:33

Well done Absy, I'm sure the re-editing will have been worth the effort.
Has anyone read it apart from your dh?

I'm nearly at 50k and it's gone better today and I've added a shiny new scene as well as rewriting another one for the 1000000th (well, 4th or 5th) time.

I've cheered myself up by googling agent wishlists and also joining the Absolute Write forum and observing that:
1. lots of agents are looking for straight historical YA
2. hardly anyone else seems to be writing it.

As long as they're still looking for it in the 6 months or so it will take me to finish this.... smile

GrendelsMum Thu 28-Feb-13 22:22:03

Hi folks, Just logging in to say that I am still going! Things are going slowly but, I hope, reasonably well.

Tunip - I'm still up for beta reading at Easter. It will make a nice change from workin on my own.

Having looked at various agents' websites, I'm actually planning to get my whole novel pretty well polished before sending it out again. Things seem to move faster now that a lot of MSS are sent by email, and I'm concerned that someone might come back from the 3 chapters and ask for the rest, which isn't up to scratch.

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