For a while I had the hardest time with rewriting. Not that I couldn’t do it or didn’t like doing it… it was more I would rewrite everything and leave nothing of my original work. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself, breathe, and reflect on the potential of what I had already written.
This was the issue I had with my first book. When I wrote book one I first wrote it out by hand. I thought it would help me reduce my chances of rewriting too much if I forced myself with taking time physically writing each word than word vomiting like I do on the laptop. Writing out my story by hand did help slow me down and help me work through the writing process. It allowed me to critically think about my characters and the plot development. It even helped me find my voice when it came to writing my story. The sad part was, the story I had in the notebook though was nothing like the story that I eventually published.
Yes, the characters stayed the same… but the storyline was completely different.
I think the reason why the story was altered to much from what I originally planned was because the basic characters I had started with transformed into more complex people. The world I had created had more depths to it, and the story I was telling wasn’t working for the story I wanted to tell. Writing out my first draft by hand helped me realize the real story I wanted to tell.
I don’t regret the changes I’ve made. I look back at the work in the notebook and realize all this rewriting I did, all the cutting, all the plot changes were worth it. I made the mistake of not planning my first book. I had an idea of what I wanted but didn’t know how to put it on paper. It was writing out what came to my mind and reviewing what I had written that I discovered the deeper story within – leading to my complete rewrite of what I originally had.
For my first book I’m incredibly impressed with how it turned out but in a way it is also saddens me that the original story in the notebook will never be shared in the same sense… I could share it with you on this blog but it isn’t my character’s story any more. The notebook was my idea that lead to my writing adventure. So, as much as it saddens me that I will be the only one to look at those pages it also makes me happy that something came of what I first wrote.
Now I’m working through the second book of the series rewriting has been getting easier. I’ve learnt from my mistakes that I made in my first book. I did weeks/ months of planning out what I wanted this book to be about. I explored themes and did more research regarding gender roles, mental illness, and other topics I weren’t so clear about. I used my notebook this time not to write out my story but to plan out my story.
As I work through my first draft of book one I can recognize the scenes or interactions in my work that need to be rewritten or removed. I find that my second book’s draft – although taking longer to write – is going smoother than the first book’s draft. The story is clearer and I know as soon as I’ve written something that something doesn’t sound right about it. I leave it until the editing process to change, leaving *** beside what I think needs to be revised in a later review. Or, if I know right away what would improve that scene I fix it so I won’t forget the idea that would make it flow better.
As much as it is bitter sweet – knowing that your writing needs to be changed and that something you may have loved to write about needs to be cut – it is important to your story to make it the best you can. This story is yours and the best way to show you love it is by having it in a state you are proud to have other read it.
Hopefully by my sixth book I’ll have this all down to a science… but let’s be honest – there is always places to improve in writing and always ways you can make your story better. And, if you read your work and you know you can do better it only pushes you to be the best you can be.