Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rewriting and Editing

When I handed in the King Rolen's Kin books, I'd had time to clean them up, print them, give them to my son and husband to read, then clean them up again. I'm not going to have that much time with the new trilogy.

Currently, I'm on a count-down to clean up the three books of The Outcast Chronicles and submit them by the end of May. It seems like the world has been conspiring against me. I had planned to get a lot of work done over the summer holidays but we had a major flood and I spent a lot of the holidays digging trenches in my yard to prevent the water from flowing in.

Since then life has become complicated with an elderly relative needing somewhere to stay and work taking up a lot of my time, so I am really looking forward to the next week. Because of the Easter Holidays and Anzac Day I won't be at work again until Thursday of next week. A Whole Week in which to write. I feel giddy with delight.

The funny thing is that I am up to page 430 of book one but I keep jamming up because I'll be reading away and then realise that I need to insert either a new scene or a paragraph to illuminate a character's change of heart or realisation. I do have a list of Things to Fix with each book and I'm working my way through them, but I find the things I am fixing are things that come to me intuitively. I will wake up in the morning with the conviction that I need to add a line to a scene.

I work with the manuscript open on one screen and the chapter outlines open on the other. This means I can find exactly the right scene because I know which page it's on and I have all the POVs colour coded, so I know if I have been neglecting a character. This give me the illusion that I am in control.

How do you approach your rewrites? Do you have Things to Fix list? Do you find that you wake with the awful knowledge that you need to add another scene?


Brendan said...

I think I am more impressed by authors who admit to cutting scenes out that aren't working or just don't add to the focus of the story. I know I have read books where even though the writing was good I was left wondering why certain scenes were nessesay overall.

MataPam said...

I'm in the process of a major rewrite. I suddenly realized that the story would be so much better told from the other side.

So suddenly my heroic spy is the mysterious figure the counter-espionage team is trying to figure out. So I've dropped all the scenes that were just his, and started changing the POV in the scenes where they interact. Reshuffle them all and check for thing happening or being discovered in the right order. _Then_ I'll get to all the fill in the hole scenes.

And I keep telling myself that as I gain experience, I'll see things like this before I write it, not after.

Synova said...

Are there more King Rolen's Kin books? The Chronicles are something different, right?

Megan Haskell said...

I'm the same...I have a Fix List that shifts and changes as I write and even as I edit. I think I changed the story ending about 4 times. My best ideas come just before bed or in the shower, of all places, and then I have to rush and write it down before I forget!

Chris L said...

Hi Rowena,

Sounds like you've been having a torrid time. I was digging trenches out back of my parent's place in Hobart last week when their backyard turned into a waterfall.

Can't believe the rain this year.

Frankly, I'm at a loss to know what to with my latest MS. I don't seem to be able to get any feedback on it and I don't know where to go from the here so I'm back to short stories for now.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Brendan, I take chunks of scenes out so that the focus remains on driving the plot forward.

Every scene must do two things, move the plot forward and reveal character.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


Changing POV with this sounds like you've made it much more powerful. It's funny how these insights just come to us.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Synova, the Outcast Chronicles are a new series. I do have plans for more KRK books, but I have to hand in these first.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

LOL, Megan. I get ideas while I'm mowing. I think the mindlessness of the task allows my subconscious free rein.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Chris, sometimes a break away from a WIP is what you need to see it more clearly. You could always start another book, knowing what you know now about writing craft.

Lots of writers I know have a hard drive full of books that they wrote before they got published. Once you do get published, you can go back, clean them up with your greater knowledge of writing craft and sell them.

Chris L said...

Yeah, I'm keeping a longer MS on the go and writing short stuff here and there.