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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 Mon 11-Mar-13 11:40:04

Turns out Kindles need mobi, not epub, but that's fine, I have done it as both. (And it's sitting on my Kindle now! Yikes!) Am just working through emails now.

GrendelsMum Mon 11-Mar-13 11:43:22

Oh smashing! So much looking forward to it...

TunipTheVegedude Tue 12-Mar-13 14:28:02

Has anyone read 'Revising Fiction' by David Madden? I've ordered it after hearing it talked about fondly on American writing forums.

It is not for the faint-hearted. It has a list of questions that remind me of religious works where you have to examine the state of your soul (or that medieval list about whether you have fornicated on a Friday etc).

eg '16. Have you failed to imagine your style, line by line?

17. Does your style generally lack a sense of immediacy?

18. Does your style fail to work upon all of the reader’s senses?

19. Have you failed to make your style as clear, concrete, and simple as the various contexts demand?

20. Is your style literal more often than it is suggestive?

21. Do you tell your reader when to show would be more effective?

22. Do you neglect to prepare contexts that will enable you to use the device of implication?

23. Do you fail to use the device of implication?'

full list here. I'm hoping the book itself will tell me the appropriate penance in each case.

GrendelsMum Tue 12-Mar-13 16:52:12

Gosh, I can't help thinking that's quite funny.

Forgive me, reader, because my style is frequently more literal than it is suggestive.

TunipTheVegedude Sun 17-Mar-13 18:28:34

It made me laugh hysterically but that's because of the all the Catholic stuff in my novel - it fits so perfectly.

I'm re-reading Browne & King now. The chapter on show'n'tell particularly smile

GrendelsMum did you find a solution to your flagging prison scene?

GrendelsMum Sun 17-Mar-13 18:49:02

I hope I'm in the middle of a solution, through endless re-writing to increase pace, drama and tension! I'll let you know how it goes.

Would you be interested in re-reading it once I've finished this draft? I don't know if you'd find it interesting to see what I've changed?

TunipTheVegedude Sun 17-Mar-13 18:52:28

I'd love to!
I feel like I'm just learning to critique, tbh, and it would be a learning experience for me to see it - as well as interesting, because I loved the book and would like to see how it has developed.

GrendelsMum Sun 17-Mar-13 19:39:31

Well, I'd be interested to see what you're planning to do to the boring sod your poor heroine ends up with!

TunipTheVegedude Sun 17-Mar-13 19:47:20

Oh well all my other readers think he is simply fascinating. hmm

Only kidding.... smile

I don't know yet. I will think of something. I'll have interestingness surgically implanted into him using primitive surgical techniques.

GrendelsMum Sun 17-Mar-13 19:57:54

DH and I were discussing him - as you do - and we did agree that possibly dull but nice, reliable and kind is exactly what she's looking for after the appalling traumas she's been through over the course of the novel.

And they do have a sexy moment under the waterfall...

TunipTheVegedude Mon 18-Mar-13 09:42:01

I love that you're discussing my character!
I think that's exactly right - I turned him into what she wants and needs at that point. But that results in a bundle of quite dull characteristics.
Anyway he's not particularly three dimensional. I'm in absolutely no doubt that it would be a stronger book if Will was more fully developed.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 20-Mar-13 10:10:58

Look what I've bought to deal with all that pesky telling-not-showing of emotions I've been doing.

BsshBossh Sat 23-Mar-13 22:29:23

<Bssh sidles back in completely blush at long absence>

What a busy tread smile Been away (from writing desk) but back on Monday, promise.

<settles in to read thread>

TunipTheVegedude Mon 25-Mar-13 08:03:36

Welcome back, Bssh.

'The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne,
Th' assay so hard, so sharp the conquerynge.'


Engelsemama Mon 25-Mar-13 08:24:45

Tentatively jumping on. I wrote 50k for Nano 2012 (was aon the nano thread on here) and said I would revisit after Christmas but the last 3 months have passed in a haze of wintry darkness, flu and d&v in our household. Easter holidays next week so I am hoping (after I get my moderation sample off this week) I will be able to do start editing.

Where to start? I guess I need to re-read in one go first of all and see where I go from there.

Lots of great tips and recommendations for websites and books on this thread.

Looking forward to editing with you all!

TunipTheVegedude Mon 25-Mar-13 08:58:20

Great to see you, Engelsemama!
I had that last year - I was on a roll with writing and then just had week after week when everyone was ill. This time round my kids have all been enormously considerate and waited till the gaps between drafts to get ill, when I can't work on it anyway. At least you will have the advantage of plenty of distance from your draft.

I hope you enjoy rewriting. I've been amazed how much fun it is. I may in fact even prefer it to doing the first draft.

Reading Sol Stein's 'On Writing' at the moment. Really recommend it - it's full of insights.

GrendelsMum Mon 25-Mar-13 09:51:22

Gosh, that's a cracker from Chaucer. Nice to know he felt it too!

BsshBossh Mon 25-Mar-13 13:20:01

I'm 6 scenes away from finishing Draft 6 of my novel. Am trying to finish it before Wednesday afternoon when my DD finishes school for the Easter holidays. Then my plan is to work on the 7th draft (^eeeeekkkk^) after Easter hols. Hopefully, this far along, the 7th will be a quick draft, tweaking here and there only. But we'll see.

BsshBossh Mon 25-Mar-13 13:21:18

Draft 6? no, Draft 5 I mean. Oh lordy, I've lost count. Who cares really, I'm editing and I'm writing - hurrah!

TunipTheVegedude Mon 25-Mar-13 13:29:46

Bssh, how do you manage to still see it after so many drafts? How do you avoid being too close to it?
After my 2 drafts I simply didn't have any distance on mine. Now I have notes from beta readers I can see what I will have to do in draft 3, but where do you go after that? Do you just keep sending it to beta readers after every draft?

BsshBossh Mon 25-Mar-13 13:55:42

Tunip I'm actually quite objective about it now I've been working on it for nearly 2 years. But I also give myself a few weeks gap between drafts which helps. No idea really, I just seem to be a little detached from it now...

TunipTheVegedude Mon 25-Mar-13 16:19:48

Thanks Bssh. Maybe it will come with time then!

Hope you've had a good day's editing.

BsshBossh Wed 27-Mar-13 12:48:36

Finished!!!! Just in time for my DD to break up for the holidays in 2 hours. HUrrah! Will now take a complete 2.5 week break then resume on the 15th April with another edit/draft/read through.

GrendelsMum Wed 27-Mar-13 19:49:08

Well done, BsshBossh! Great to have completed your revisions.

Things are going less well here, and I'm feeling thoroughly in tune with Chaucer - the craft so longe to lerne, Th' assay so hard. Really just 'th'assay so hard' at the moment.

It would be so much easier such to sit back and read other people's books, wouldn't it?

Right at the moment just feel a bit pissed off with the whole business of writing. Things got so bad this morning I seriously contemplated vaccuuming the sitting room instead of writing.

The problem is that in order to increase tension, I have my heroine being more and more clearly potentially violent, with the result that the guards who finally let her escape are now looking like idiots.

a) she tries to protect someone and gets hit by a guard for her pains. The guards then decide to drug her food a bit.
b) while undergoing forcible prison medication - which she tries to fight off - she sees someone she knows in prison and tries to communicate with them, which the guards try to prevent and a fight ensues
c) the guards take her for an interview with the prison governor and kindly leave her alone with him, at which point she attacks him and makes a break for it

It hardly gives you much confidence in the guards, does it?

Plus I have to convey the state of mind of someone who realises she has been betrayed by the institution she relied on to give her a sense of self-worth and purpose in life.


Tea, sympathy and solutions please, folk!

Thisisaeuphemism Sat 30-Mar-13 16:38:42

Just jumping aboard this thread coz I am kind of rewriting - kind of writing.

Grendels mum - how about she outwits them rather than outviolences them?

Eg forced prison medication - she saves(in her mouth) then it to the prison governer when left alone with him.

The fight could be between others - she could set it off somehow tho - so when she is in the governors office the guards, exasperated, have to run and sort it out. Or something!

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