Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Fricassee

Sunshine, low humidity, sparkling dew on the grass--couldn't be a better morning for lifting the spirits. If I weren't so bug-phobic, I'd be out there instead of in here.

Yes, it's warm weather's bane. Bugs. *shudder*

Anyway, it's been a full week of crits and writerly fun, yes? Our Secret Agent is still among us, working through the list. Keep your eyes open (as if I have to tell you that).

I received an amazing piece of advice yesterday that has energized me just when I needed it most. Not on the WIP, which is moving along swimmingly (close to 50K--how can it be?!). No, the advice has to do with my beloved, overly-queried, I-believe-so-strongly-in-this-I'm-not-giving-up manuscript.

It's on Draft 5, and of course it keeps improving as I go. But the original novel was completed, oh, three years ago, I think? And in those three years, my writing has grown and developed--which is, of course, what's supposed to happen. Right?

So here I sit, on the brink of a huge I've-got-to-make-these-characters-come-to-life-once-and-for-all breakthrough, and I'm...blanking out.

Sound familiar?

Enter the Best Advice of the Month (you know who you are, oh Advice Giver--shall I name you?): Your writing is stronger now than when you wrote the novel. Don't edit. Rewrite.

Oh, yes. There it is. Exactly what I needed to hear.

Not that I relish the thought. The specific approach calls for outlining each chapter, then sitting down and rewriting. Stronger voice, stronger sense of the story's cadence. Knowing where I'm going from the beginning, but getting there a better way.

Gives me goosebumps.

And, ya, it also gives me indigestion. Because...well, we're talking about a lot of work here.

Here's the thing. I'm not willing to give up my 1000-word-a-day progress on my WIP. And one of the areas in which I've been lacking is multitasking. I've always been a One Project sort of gal.

Silly. And ultimately not efficient.

So this I'm-so-not-a-night-person person is now training herself to work in the evening on her Beloved Middle Grade Novel. I have the plan, I have the passion. I just need...consciousness?

But, yanno, enough's enough. I am a writer. And I am going to be a published writer. And this is what I have to do. What I want to do.

And, no, I can't drink coffee at night. Because then I will subsequently be awake for the entire night.


And there you have it. I've shared this for two reasons:
  • I need to know that you're aware of what I'm doing, so when you coyly comment, "So, how's the ripping-apart-the-manuscript-during-late-hours going?" I will have to give an answer. Call it...anonymous accountability.
  • I want you to take my "Eureka!" moment and apply it to your own work. What's the "butt kick" that you need right now? Grab onto it and move forward.
There you have it. And I'm sure you've got something to share as well. Share away! More than any other time, this community comes to life on Fridays in the comment box. I'm sure I'm not the only one who looks forward to it.

Happy writing! And I'll see you all bright and early Monday morning for our Unveiling and Winners!


  1. I went from editing and revising to rewriting as well -- and I am so glad. My personal deadline has been extended, because I just want it to be right! When I would try to edit it took more time - and then I had a rewriting revelation!

    Good for you for having one too!!!

    For the first time evah, I put a snippet on my own blog. Makes me nervous but heck, what's life without some jitters?

  2. Thank you for this post!

    Do we all have first loves lying in the desk door of proverbs?

    And congrats on reaching (and blowing past) 50K words.

  3. I do this - Why not? You know you wrote a whole book. Do something with it!

    I open a word doc and pull out my favorite scenes from the old and put it in the new, then start re-writing. It's great not to have to dispose of a whole novel with beloved characters.

    I always use a new hook though as part of the rewrite so I have a shiny new manuscript.

    Good luck Authoress!

  4. I recently decided to rewrite my first novel. And I mean rewrite. Originally it was a YA fantasy set in a medieval like era. Now it's a YA paranormal that is a ghost of the original (no ghosts, though). Few things have remained, but not much. Some secondary characters have been demoted, whereas some tertiary ones have received a promotion. Even the ending has changed.

    The funny thing is, I tried to keep it similar to the original, but just in a different time period (modern), but the story took a new direction I hadn't even outlined. Not that I'm complaining.

    Glad to hear I'm not the only one doing this. :)

  5. Wow, I so needed to read this today! I have one of those novels too - don't want to give up, revised half a dozen times already, but there's still something missing. I've grown as a writer, and I think, like you, the only thing for it is to re-write from scratch. I was seriously thinking of shoving my poor MS under the bed, but maybe now I'll pull it out and see what I can do.

    Thanks Authoress!

  6. Authoress,
    I'm just in awe of all that you manage to do with running this webstite and writing too. Wow. Pat yourself on the back.

    I can sympathize. Between husband, kids, pets and house, the writing is usualy done in snatches and creativity doesn't always work that way. (and the work will show it)

    When I accept a part needs rewritten, I usually get depressed and eat a whole lot of cookies, candy or whatever chocolate we have in the house. But then, either the seratonin in the chocolate takes hold or something sparks in my brain because I usually get really keyed up to do it. And I actually enjoy it.

    So, eat some chocolate, take those favorite old characers out of the back closet in your mind and talk to them again. I bet they have been dying for the chance.

  7. Okay here's a trick I use for staying up later. Drink a cup of coffee but drink it at 3 pm. THat way you will still have the momentum until about 11pm- 12am'ish. You'll get some work done and still get to go to sleep before the sun comes up.

    Secondly, I'm totally a one story kind of girl too. I've got the novel I'm querying right now - which querying, as you know, is an undertaking in its own right.

    Then I've got the second novel in that series that I still need to get my keester into gear to start writing.

    side note: Does anyone else find it difficult to get their momentum back when you are done with one novel, and you should start working on your next? Because I apparently to. I feel like such a slacker right now.

    Moving on...Finally, I have a third project (completely seperate from the YA series) that I want to start, but I kind of feel like I should be devoted to the first two projects before I work on something different.

    *Sigh* Wow this is a very long post. *Blushes* Just needed vent about the creative tug of war that is going on in my head I guess. Sorry! :D

  8. As I wait for feedback on my latest manuscript, I opened up a new document and typed in the first two paragraphs of a new story.

    It feels great. A new adventure! In many ways easier than taking a story and revamping it dramatically, even though I have oh, some 59k words to go. :-)

    I am shamelessly using the new WIP as a delay tactic. I know I will have some work ahead of me with my older manuscript before I query yet again. I can totally relate to how you are feeling!

    Your blog rocks, btw. I've learned so much in just the little bit I've read from it.

  9. I shelved my first manuscript because, after rewriting it 4 times before I even reached the halfway point in the story, I realized that I was not yet capable of writing the story I had in mind.

    So, I put it aside and started another manuscript with fewer characters and a single POV. This is moving much more smoothly.

    An I know when I'm ready, the other MS will be waiting for me.

    Good luck with the rewrite!

  10. I hear you, Authoress! I'll share the following "funny" I just received from an online critique group I joined. I particularly like the part where the author finishes steps 8-9 and suddenly has a finished, publishable product. God, I wish it was that simple.

    -Ron Empress/Lilianamama
    Author of about 15 drafts of Mourn Their Courage

    A friend of mine who used to write a lot wrote this in reply to someone who was vaguely wondering if he should start writing the next best-seller. I thought it was amusing and thought I would share:

    Morning Russ: All you gotta do to become the great writer is one step at a time, same as the other. First step's to cogitate for a week, then write a single page plot summary.

    Second step is to use that plot summary to turn out a single page chapter summary for each chapter, say one per week if that suits your schedule.

    Third step is generating all your characters, one page per character, one character per week, say, learning everything about each one, whether what you're learning has anything to do with the book or plot at all. Just becoming intimately acquainted with each character and everything God would know about them and their neighbors and best friends don't.

    Fourth step is knowing that chapter summary, characters and plot well enough to write, say, chapter 5, ten pages of first draft. Then the rest in any order that suits you.

    Fifth step is to put down the first draft and let it mellow for six weeks while your immortal prose turns to trash.

    Sixth step is to take that first draft up after six weeks and read it, faint and revive yourself, shrug, and begin the first re-write. Cutting and pasting, firming up the plot, inserting mechanisms in chapter three to allow things to happen or explain them in chapter seven, etc, firming up dialogue, characters, maybe removing some and adding others.

    Seventh step is putting all that into a second, clean draft, then putting it down six weeks and letting it turn to garbage.

    Eighth step is picking it up again and beginning the final draft.

    Ninth step is sending out queries to publishers trying to get someone willing to read sample chapters.

    Nothing to it.

  11. Okay I feel like a blinking idiot right now. I have one of those novels that I wrote 6 years ago (in its 16th revision . . . I'm not even kidding) and the idea of REWRITING the blasted thing never occured to me.

    No, I plug away at revisions which is like banging my head against a wall. But after reading this post, I feel very much inspired!

    So this post was for me today (since most of you already knew about the rewriting thing) and I thank you for it, Authoress. If you ever need a new set of eyes to critique your MS, you know where to come because I owe you big time for this! =D

    Off to begin rewriting . . .

  12. What a daunting task - to rewrite rather than edit. But the advice is probably good. And we all know you can do it because that's the kind of gal you are. Capable and determined.

    I feel better now. My lot doesn't seem to overwhelming, since I'm simply trying to come up with a query for my MG that will attract the attention and interet of an agent. I only need one, by the way.

    So we continue. We endure the frustration and we strive for perfection, or at least improvement.

    Have a great weekend and keep doing the great work you're doing. We need you.

  13. Authoress - LOL at what happens if you drink huge amounts of coffee to stay awake. I'm right there with you. : )

    My current project is a rewrite. I wrote the initial rough draft a few years ago. This past spring I pulled it out, pulled out the 'best of the best' and literally rewrote everything else in a flurry of momentum (I think 30 days, might have been a day or two more).

    What did I learn? Sometimes, I need remarkable distance from my writing to see the true gem.

    So, rewrite away, but stay away from too much coffee. We writers need our sleep. We're (well, at least I am) grumpy enough when immersed in a project, let alone if we don't get enough sleep.

    Happy Friday.

  14. Happy Friday, Authoress!

    My version of re-writing happens AS I go...if that makes any sense.

    Since finishing Book I of my epic fantasy MS, I've given it to several friends. They get immersed in the story, let me know of grammatical goofups or character strangeness, and I fix it on the fly.

    As they're reading, I'm working on Book II. Their comments keep me fresh on Book I and help me remember things that might have otherwise gotten lost in the clutter (tie-ins, tie-ups, get the idea.)

    I know it's not the same as a complete re-write, but for anyone in a similar situation, I have to say, having bookworm friends who aren't afraid to critique can be a WONDERFUL thing!

    To susiej: I'm right there with ya on the seratonin thing. Chocolate is a GREAT motivator!! (^_-) I also use incense. Don't ask me why, but the scent of patchouli or sandlewood on a fine spring morn gets my head in the right place every time!

  15. I'm brand new here, and very much enjoying the Secret Agent contest (I hope I still feel that way when the agent gets to my entry...) The comments so far have been very illuminating, and I love this site with all of my heart. :)

    My first novel (that I could ever consider trying to get published) was written six years ago. When I wanted to start sending queries, my sister suggested I rewrite at least the first chapter. I was both thrilled and excited to start fresh, and it definitely made a huge difference, difficult as it was to put away the original version. Best of luck as you embark on an entire book of re-writing!

  16. A big cyber bouquet of fresh peach blossoms to you, Authoress.

    I wonder if this rewriting thing is in the air because I recently came to the same decision. Except for the basic storyline and main characters, there's not much resemblance between the new version and the first three or four. My writing's improved so much from that novice novel that I'm almost afraid to let anyone see this until it's stewed for awhile, in case it turns out to be as full of junk as the first. I shudder to think that I let friends read the first draft just because I got a few compliments on it.

    BTW, rewriting is fun. You know your characters, setting and story so much better than the first time so now you just get to dance with the words and figure out all kinds of cool connections, twists and tangles that you can't the first time through because you're so scared that you will forget the end to which your ramblings are reaching.

    Best of luck to you,

  17. This is SO TIMELY for me!!! I'm right there with you: rewriting now instead of editing.

  18. I was going to say the same thing as Beth, so ditto Beth. I got the same advice from a writer friend. Start over and make it right. Your writing's good. Now make the story good. (I'm paraphrasing with free license, but that was the gist of it.) So I'm back to the start. Actually I'm up to chapter 5. Whew!

  19. I'm right there with you, Authoress as well. I have a finished novel that I wrote several years ago and shelved because I was concerned about it being too much like a novel I stumbled upon. When I look at it, I realize that it would be better to start from scratch than to continually chip away at it. I can tell my writing has improved since I finished it and so rather than bash my head against the dadblamed thing, I think I should do what you're planning and rewrite it.

    Thanks for your post -- they are always so positive and encouraging.

  20. I am going through this...exactly this...right now, with my second manuscript. A friend read it and critiqued it - ripped it to shreds, really...but it needed to happen (We're still friends!). I wrote the first draft not knowing where I was going - just with a general idea - and now I'm "rewriting" it. Sounds so much better than editing.

    Thanks for sharing the thoughts!

  21. This post really helped me today. Thank you!

    To Christina: it might help to take a period of time (a week or whatever you need) where you give yourself permission to not write after finishing the novel. No guilt. No worrying about writing or those nagging 'shoulds'. It might help to refresh and reinvigorate you for the next project and bring back the fun.

    Have a great weekend everyone!

  22. I've long thought this is exactly the way to deal with my first long work, the massive and never completed Vast Amorphous Fantasy Thing (AKA, the VAFT) that's been lurking on my hard-drive for over a decade. There's a lot of good stuff in there, but it's completely unpublishable in its present form. Other projects and the vicissitudes of life have and will for a while yet keep me from stripping it down to the bones and starting over again, but someday, someday...

  23. I sometimes wonder if the writing muse travels and gives writers the same message at the same time. I am rewriting my novel.

    I didn't get advice from anyone except for the muse. :) I have completed my entire chaper 1. It is going to my writer's group in the morning.

    As you are not a night person, I am not a morning person. However I work on my novel in the morning and enjoy it. Except now I find I am too tired at night.

    Writing is like a muscle the more you write the stronger your writing gets. The secret is to believe in yourself, believe in your story and believe that you will be published.

    I think you already know that...

    Funny, I had an opportunity presented to me yesterday that could improve my financial status. It was tempting, but I decided not to take it. I want to get my book published. It is the main goal in my life right now.

    Good luck to you on your rewrite, and keep us updated.

  24. I had an experience very like yours in November.

    Away from the kids for a week, I imagined I would race through my novel, clean it up and be ready for crits before the new year.

    Well I reached the part of the mss I hadn't touched since I wrote it for nano the year before and wanted despirately to revise when I knew in my heart I'd have to rewrite.

    There was a greaving moment (not long, I didn't have that kind of time) then I chucked it and wrote the scene again.

    Funniest part was that I ended up with 10 pages: the same number the old scene had been. But it was so. much better. (Ahhhhhh...)

    God Knows I don't want to do it for the whole thing though.... good luck.

  25. Try drinking orange juice instead of coffee. It keeps me awake without the jitters and lets me sleep when I'm ready.

    You know, I've rewritten portions of a couple newer manuscripts, but I never thought of going back to the first couple books and doing a total rewrite. I don't know if I have the time, but it's certainly worth thinking about. Thanks, Authoress! =o)

  26. This is so incredibly TRUE, and something I've been thinking about lately. I had tried to revive an older book. I wasn't using all I'd learned since I had written it.

    I've put it aside, so that when I return I do not edit, but write it newly.

  27. That is exactly what I needed to hear/read. I have been slogging through pages of my completed ms. in "editing" mode (boorriinng), when my mindset should be on "rewriting"!