Writing is rewriting – E.B. White
I guess E.B. White knew what he was talking about since every good writer owns The Elements of Style. Considering the first draft of my novel, I’m beginning to agree to the validity of that assertion.
In order to rewrite my manuscript into something remotely readable, I’m going to use the methodology given in Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. Believe me, the young adult fantasy novel I just completed *happy dance* needs plenty of work.
According to Bell, the rewriting process has seven steps:
- Let it cool
- Get mentally prepared
- Read it through
- Brood over it
- Write the 2nd draft
Because I’m serious about completing this process, I set a schedule. (Some who know me would say I’m organized or perhaps a control freak.) After I completed the novel, I waited a week, getting mentally prepared all the while. Now it’s on to Step 3.
First Read Through
Bell gives great ideas for making simple marks on the manuscript. He recommends just reading it and not stopping to make any additions or corrections. Use his marking system at this juncture, and when you get to step five, you can go crazy.
I started this on the scheduled date (Monday, July 29) and finished the next day. Disappointment flogged me. Where was the adrenaline? Excitement for my story migrated to somewhere south of where I sat.
This story was lame. It had several holes and so little description that I felt like no one could even remotely imagine the fantasy worlds I invented for this book.
Brood Over It
After sleeping on it, I pulled out my spiral notebook and made a plot diagram. Yeah, just like those your middle school language arts teacher made you draw and label. The story progression seemed to fit. I discovered where the plot holes were and plugged in events to fill them.
I think character arc will take more thought and planning. My main character has changed very little by the end of this story. Yes, that’s a major faux pas for any story. I need to evaluate what her real motives are and get a better picture of what she’s like and how this adventure is changing her to be the girl who helps take down the Big Boss Troublemaker in book three.
Writing the Second Draft
This is what I started on Monday, August 5. Yes, that was a full three weeks ahead of my original schedule. Rather than patting myself on the back, I’m planning to utilize that extra time to fill the plot holes, finagle an interesting character arc and rewrite something that will get my blood pumping.
After all, I want to be proud to claim this work as my own.
What are your thoughts on rewriting? Do you start over with a blank document or do you cut-and-paste?