With my first novel under my belt, I’ve been through the rewriting process before. Last time around things got complicated, but this time, hopefully, I can keep myself more streamlined.
That doesn’t mean I’m not open to trying new methods, though. I’ve been reading up a little on other authors’ rewriting styles, and I stumbled upon one that gave me a light-bulb moment.
I’m typing up an entirely new draft, side-by-side with the old one.
It sounds like a lot of work. And it is. But I drafted this novel so fast during NaNo. I’ve always been stronger at dialogue and character interaction the first time around, and weaker on setting and description. I don’t always “see” where my characters are, just what they’re doing. So the story, as it stands, has a lot of talking-heads passages where nothing much happens except dialogue.
I feel like this process is tailor-made for my weaknesses. Armed with my notes from the re-read, I can zoom through, adding whatever I need along the way.
My first revisions always end up longer than the original draft anyway, because I realize I need extra scenes I didn’t envision during the outline phase, or I have to shore up weak settings, or I have to expand on something that seemed obvious in my head the first time around, but doesn’t make sense when I re-read. (And if I don’t remember what I meant, how is the reader supposed to figure it out?)
In the last five days, I’ve plowed through the first six chapters, taking 12K and turning it into almost 17K.
But, Elena, I hear you saying, isn’t that going to bloat your draft? Wasn’t it long enough in the first place?
Well, yes, and no. I wrote everything I thought it needed at the time, though by the end I already knew there were some flaws that needed fixing. It came up about 8K shorter than my target (WWNTS clocks in at about 98K, I was aiming for roughly the same length) but I didn’t mind if it ended up a little shorter, because book length isn’t a hard and fast rule.
And I’m not cutting words at this stage, not with intent. Some sentences get rewritten to be shorter as I go, if I see blatant issues that I can correct on the fly, but I’m not doing the nuts-and-bolts editing yet. That’ll be the next pass. So here’s what this book’s life will hopefully look like:
- Rough draft – done!
- Additive rewrite draft – underway
- Subtractive, language-tightening edit draft
- Beta reading! (During which I will start rewriting #3)
- Fix-the-reader-issues draft
- Final proofing
- Ready to print!
See, I have a plan. It’s so comforting to have a plan.