Monday, January 16, 2012

Sequel Issues...

Okay. If there's one thing about writing that I'd prefer to avoid, it would be rewriting. And I'm not talking about the rewriting you do while editing. I'm talking about full scale rewriting of everything you've already written.

After editing book 1, my characters had changed into (hopefully) less flat people. They've grown quite a bit compared to what they were in my first draft. The thing is, I started writing book 2 before I was done editing book 1 which probably wasn't the smartest idea. So I've got a lot of things to change.

My problem is this. How do you find a way to say a lot of the same things in a completely different way?

I know it sounds like a silly question because we do it all the time when we edit. But for some reason, this is different for me. Am I just over thinking it? Or do you guys feel the same way?

Have you ever had to completely rewrite your book? How do you get it done?



AveryMarsh said...

I don't have any advice to give because I'm also struggling with a complete rewrite right now, but I just wanted you to know, you're not alone. ;)

Rena said...

Oh, the complete rewrite... yeah, that's hard. Here's my take on it (which is to say, feel free to smile and pat me on the head as you tactfully ignore my advice).
First: You have to tackle a slightly harder set of questions (to go the distance with this story, or to trunk it). I'll assume you've already tackled those, 'cause that's a whole other set of issues and ones you don't want hanging over your head as you go into a rewrite.
Second: you really want your rewrite to have a purpose. For me the reason I wanted to do a rewrite is that I couldn't get the story out of my head, but my voice had changed so much that it was no longer representative of my writing.
Third: Remember that you can rewrite as many times as you like. Shannon Messenger talked about how she did thirteen complete rewrites before landing her agent. What I mean by this is that if you go through a scene and rewrite it (starting from a blank page), and it isn't quite right, you can do it again, so don't pressure yourself for perfection now.
Fourth: You need perspective and love. The perspective you need is what you want out of your story. If it's publication, then you have to step back and make sure that the story is well crafted, well told, *and* well written. In short, what's so awesome about your story that it deserves to be shared with thousands. As for the love, well, you need a lot of it to stay in one book for such a long time.
Fifth: Time. You need time away from your manuscript. The first novel I tried to rewrite, I started in right after I'd edited the first draft, and when I opened my word processor to start over again, I kept finding myself saying "Well, what's wrong with the way I said it over here?" If I'd given myself more time, it would have been much more successful, but I was impatient.
Sixth: Patience. I know that what you want is to finish it up so you can get it out there into the world, catch a great agent, and get on with your writing career (Okay, I'm totally projecting, that was me when I first started looking into publishing), but the process really does take a long time. Take the time you need. Give yourself that gift of time. It will help immensely.

I hope this helps, and if you have questions, just send me an email, I'd be happy to share my opinions (and as you've probably noticed, I have plenty of opinions).

Francesca Zappia said...

This made me laugh, because I've rewritten one of my books a grand total of eight times. And yeah, literally beginning-to-end, rewritten, even if most of the plot points stay the same. I have already written the second and most of the third book, but by this time I feel like it's so cemented that if I did tweak anything in the first, it wouldn't be too hard to change in the others.

As for your question...

The way I got all those rewrites done, and said basically the same information but clearer and better written was just by giving it time. From the very very first draft of the book to this latest one (which I think is the one I'm keeping for good), I spent ten years ironing out the story and refining the characters and making everything just the way I wanted it. Obviously it doesn't take that much time for everyone, but I don't think you can just jump from one draft to the next in an instant. If you're doing a complete overhaul, you've got to give yourself time to think over how you want things to change and where you want the story to go, both as its own book and as part of a series.

Still, it always wears me out when I think about doing a rewrite. But then I remember how much I love the story, and I suck it up and get to work.

If you do the complete rewrite, good luck!

Jess said...

That's fine! Thanks for stopping by :)

Jess said...

Wow, thanks for taking so much time to help me!! This is great advice!

Jess said...

Maybe I'll take a break and work a little bit on another story before I go along with the rewriting. My first drafts are pretty messed up, but I don't want it to be TOO messed up. Thanks for stopping by :)

prerna pickett said...

yes, I've started a project over again. Sometimes it needs to be done. Make sure that you stay with the tone you want. I wanted mine to be darker. Tone sets everything.

Jess said...

I love darker. Darker is always better.

Cassie Mae said...

I've had to rewrite an entire story before. I changed the POV from the heroine to the hero, changed his age, and changed where everything took place. It was a complete overhaul, but in the end I didn't lose anything because I gained so much more. I got my story... the one I meant to tell the first time around.

I came to this conclusion after I'd taken time away from the story. I think it was like two weeks of thinking a whole bunch of 'what if's'. What if I wrote it from this character's POV? What if I changed the genre and made it a MG instead of a YA? What if I used magical realism instead of epic fantasy?

Bam! My what if's turned into what my story needed to be.

Time away is a good thing because then you're not staring at the words and wondering. You're out in the real world where inspiration hits. :) You may not need to rewrite at all, you just may need a break to work on something else. :)

Jen Daiker said...

I've had trouble with this in the past. The only thing that seemed to work for me was walking away completely from it and writing a short story. It wasn't another novel... that would have been too long, but the short story caused me to think about other characters entirely, so that when I went back to the troublesome rewrite, the characters seemed fresh and I could feel the dullness my beta's were talking about.

I hope that everything soon falls into place for you!

Jess said...

That's a really good idea! Writing down all the "what ifs" probably helps put everything into perspective! I think I'll try that. Thanks for stopping by!

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