Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rewriting



I’ve finished what I’m calling my “rough draft” a few weeks ago.  I should be ecstatic, but instead I’m feeling a bit blah about it. 

There are plenty of things to be proud of with this story.  It’s a legitimate start to the story. It’s a framework to build on. I think I figured out key aspects of these characters’ GMC.  It only took a few months to write.

But, at this point, all I can see is how far I still have to go.

In the past, I would take a long time to write a rough draft.  By the time I finished, I could see the revisions I wanted to make.  Most of it was character tweaking.  A few plot twists.  Grammatical issues.  Stuff like that.  My last book was my biggest revision and it took a couple months.  Probably because I had no clue how to do a revision for real so I was learning as I went.

This, though, is a horse of a different color. (What is with that saying anyway? I don’t get it.) This is not a revision.  What I have ahead of me is a pretty serious rewrite.

I’ve already begun, pulling each scene out, adjusting the plot as needed.  Tucking away what I cut to be used later.

I know some of you (ahem, Ter, ahem) like this part.  But, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I’m trying to tell myself that there’s no difference between revision and rewriting, they’re all just along the path to the book’s final pretty face.  But, frankly, that feels like bologna when I end up cutting huge chunks of utter garbage from my Word document.

So, first of all, if you have revision/rewrite pointers, send them my way.  Do you think revision and rewriting are different?  Am I totally screwed?  (NO, don’t answer that.)

But, also, the holidays are upon us.  I know we shared recipes but tell me about your holiday traditions.  I need some warm fuzzies this week.  Big blessings to you and yours this time of year.  Hug your loved ones close.

31 comments:

Chantel Maloon said...

I think they are very different!! I'm not a big fan of revision myself. The actual writing is coming up with something new and exciting and getting impatient to get to the next parts.. Revision it's already written. The fun part is over, yes you get to have a little fun changing scenarios, but not quite the same. Plus it can be tedious. I hate tedium it's so...uninteresting, and hardly entertaining. I guess we have to make sacrifices though. Who decided that any way "we all have to make sacrifices", let someone else make sacrifices and while they are at it they can make me some brownies..

Also have you ever sat down and made yourself write even when you just weren't feeling it and looked at it afterwards and it's just bad? But you don't delete it because at least it's something? I wanted to start rewriting it immediately but I've been trying not to do that, it gets me stuck on that certain scene and then I get intimidated and develope a huge case of confidence issues which makes me put down my pen and step away from my keyboard for months.

Maureen said...

I'm facing a similar thing with my second Caribbean Spell book, tons of stuff to cut and rework. So much that it just scares me to think about where to start.

In the end, I'll just start. I'm not nearly as organized as you and Ter. I'll begin with chapter one and hash it out as I go forward.

I took a class on revision once, with Ter, and learned a system...but it involves colored post its and to be honest, I'd rather hack and slash. Then polish.

What you're doing, the step you're at, sounds easier. Doesn't mean I'm gonna do it that way, but good for you!

Holiday traditions? Well, I'm making cinnamon rolls this year. This was something my Mom used to do and family and friends lusted to be on the list to receive one of the coveted pans... My oldest sis still makes them. I haven't in years, but I'm tackling it this year.

Beginning today, once I'm home from a massage, I'm mixing the first batch... The scent of cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning is the stuff of legends with the O'Hagan clan. And I'll be distributing them to the clan this holiday season. And sharing them with Mom come the morning of the 25th.

It's a scent I will always associate with the holidays. ;-)

Janga said...

Marn, for me revision is the term for the changes I make after I take a new look at the full draft. It includes cutting, tightening, transposing, extending, etc. Rewriting means I trash what I have--a scene, a chapter, or the entire draft--and start over. Revision is the hard work of writing for me, but I rather enjoy it. Rewriting makes me curse and cry.

My holiday is rich in traditions. My iPod is filled with traditional music, I've seen two grands in Christmas plays with a pageant still to come. For weeks I've been rereading favorite Christmas books from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and Bear Noel with the grands to Carla Kelly and Mary Balogh just for me. Baking with the recipes my grandmothers, my great-aunts, and my mother used keeps them a part of my Christmas. Sometime between tonight and Christmas Eve, we'll fill the car with whatever grands are with us that evening and drive through town looking at all the Christmas lights and decorations, something I can remember doing with my parents from the time I was very young. This year particularly every minute with the grands feels like an extraordinary blessing.

Your horse question made me curious. This is what I found:

HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR, A - "A topic or a plan that represents a change from what one thought was being talked about or considered. Shakespeare offered the companion saying in 'Twelfth Night' , where Maria is offered a comment on her plans against Malvolio and responds: 'My purpose is, indeed, a horse of that colour.' In 1798 the Philadelphia 'Aurora' had a line on President John Adams, to whom the paper referred sarcastically as King John I: 'Whether any of them may be induced.to enter into the pay of King John I is 'a horse of another color.' One suspects that the image originated in racing where one might have bet on a horse of a certain color only to find that a horse of another color is winning." From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).

Marnee Bailey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marnee Bailey said...

Hi Chantel!

Also have you ever sat down and made yourself write even when you just weren't feeling it and looked at it afterwards and it's just bad? But you don't delete it because at least it's something?

Oh, dear, yes. In that first draft when I'm just trying to get it done, I do this. And I hate that feeling afterwards. The regret. The failure. Although I tell myself it isn't failure because it's words, right? It's something. Isn't something better than nothing?

But sometimes my something is worse than nothing. LOL!

then I get intimidated and develope a huge case of confidence issues which makes me put down my pen and step away from my keyboard for months.

Oh boy, you're not alone here either. I used to do that too. Now, though, I try to just visualize what I wish I WOULD have written and pretend the drivel I've written isn't there at all. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, not so much.

Marnee Bailey said...

Mo - I have to be systematic or I feel like I'm not making progress. And, for a list-crosser-offer like me, that is important. If I feel like I'm at least making a LITTLE progress at each sitting, then I can keep going. If I felt like I was spinning my wheels, I'd just stop. :(

And those cinnamon rolls sound great. I've meant to respond and say I'm thinking of giving them a shot too. But this eek has been nutso around here. The holidays are crazy.

I make fudge for my hubby's office. I've been mixing and mixing.

Marnee Bailey said...

Janga!! Thank you for the horse explanation! I've never gotten that saying. I think I use it correctly but it just sounds so weird. LOL!! I think that's why I use it, because it's so wacky. LOL

I love your traditions. And how you explain your baking. That's exactly how I feel. I make pumpkin logs because it's something I remember so clearly from my childhood. My mom would freeze them and then put them in the fridge Christmas Eve morning. By dinner that night, they'd still be so cold they almost hurt your teeth. But, man, they're good that way. When I mix up that filling, I think of her all the way down there in Florida. :)

And I know your feelings about the grands. This year I'm feeling so blessed, more than I usually do.

Enjoy your decoration/light driving around!! We did that this past weekend. The hubs and I got some fru fru coffee and toured the neighborhoods with the kidlets in the back munching cookies, listening to Christmas music. Love it.

TerriOsburn said...

I wouldn't say I'm a fan of rewriting though I do like revisions. Mostly. But my first WIP needs major rewrites and I keep putting it off to the point my next proposal will be something totally brand new.

I did learn something in my first real revisions though. A tip really, from another Montlake author and I can't remember which one right now. (I need to write this stuff down!) Anyway, start with the biggest stuff and work your way down to the easier stuff.

Mo mentioned the post its but she really just means the storyboard which I know you have in Excel. Which is fine. Get that in a way that is complete with what you have and where you can see it all at one time. Then find the holes or the scenes that need the most rewrites.

That's where you'll start, weeding through and making progress. Every new scene you write/re-write is more progress. Don't worry about making them perfect as it's still the rough draft. Add to/adjust the storyboard as you go and you'll see the story coming to life.

Ride that accomplishment high into the medium stuff. Add some layering. Strengthen the verbs. Perk up the flat spots. By the time that's done you'll be flying on the writerly high and ready to tackle the small stuff. Repetitive words. Wonky tense here and there.

You can do this!

haleigh said...

Oh Marn, I feel your pain. I too am in the middle of a straight-up rewrite, and I agree it's totally different than basic revisions.

I totally agree that the excitement is gone from a re-write. It's getting difficult for me to keep at it.

The only tip that's working for me at the moment is one you gave me, Marn! Having a list of all the changes, by scene and type of change (plot, character, setting, etc), is extraordinarily helpful. It also gives me a built-in road map to approaching the changes, doing the plot changes first, then character, then conflict, etc.

As for holiday traditions, we don't have a lot, but with the baby almost 2, I'm excited to start creating them. I want to come up with something fun for Christmas Eve evening. And maybe a breakfast tradition for Christmas morning (that doesn't include the potato pancakes my mom made when I was a kid - no offense to anyone who loves those!)

Marnee Bailey said...

I love when Ter gets out the pom poms. Especially when she's right. :)

I think your suggestions are dead on. Right now I'm working on the big stuff. I'm adjusting my characters and my plot. After that, I'll deal with all the smoothing stuff.

You're right! I CAN do this!! *I WILL SURVIVE swells in the background* I just need to remember it's one step at a time. I think that it's these times when I can see why people don't keep going at this whole process. It can be so overwhelming.

Chantel Maloon said...

Hahaha I guess I'm going to have to try that! I think I agree with you on nothing being better. Undoubtedly this scene I've written wont even make it to the final draft :/ but hopefully it will give me a ideas on other portions of my story :)

MsHellion said...

I love Ter's advice, but I'm not a fan of revision or rewrites. It's questionable I even like writing. *LOL*

BUT I did rewrites for my A&E story, before it was finished. The problem is...the rewrites I did made it worse. And it wasn't until I worked on my cowboy story and just put the A&E story aside for at least 6 months (not even peeking at it), that when I opened it on a whim, loaded all the chapters of the ORIGINAL version into a document, and realized I'd abandoned it at the same place I was having a problem with my cowboy story. So my advice is not to actually rewrite until the story is actually COMPLETE and possibly after several months so you don't think everything you wrote was shit. Or barely tolerable shit.

I realize you don't have that luxury. But I have faith that the story isn't "garbagy" as you think it is and that you're going to be fine.

MsHellion said...

Oh, and holiday traditions. My family's main tradition was opening gifts on Christmas Eve (no Santa in our house). I didn't care for this much. But my sister did a neat one--we opened on Christmas Day, but before we did so, we had a birthday cake for Jesus and read the Christmas Story. Real early in the morning while in our pjs. So that was neat. I liked that one.

I haven't done anything yet for Christmas, other than make a wreath which is on my door. I haven't put up my tree and I'm thinking I won't because it's a hassle to put away again. *LOL* I haven't done any shopping for gifts, haven't thought about it.

BUT at work we did adopt a family and I bought a gift for that...and I did buy a gift for a friend who was having a stressful time, something to help her pamper herself and relax...but that wasn't really Christmas, you know?

TerriOsburn said...

Y'all have given me a topic for a blog so I'm blogging Monday. Things must be said! (I know this will be a burden, Hellie, but you'll have to take the day off.)

Wait. Monday is Christmas Eve and I'll be offline all day. Gah! Fine. I'll save it. But things will be said!

MsHellion said...

Ha! I have a blog finally too...but it can wait as well. I'll let you go first. I'm gracious like that...but it felt great to have an idea for a change and to write again and not for it to feel strained and painful.

Marnee Bailey said...

Hal - I'd love to take credit for that advice, but I got it from Susan Dennard. LOL!! That's what I'm doing this time too. Big stuff to little, reading through and trying to get the overall view. Even though it gives me a direction for how to do it, it doesn't make it easy though.

And it wasn't until our oldest was about 2 that we started having real holiday traditions too. One of my favorites? Mimosas Christmas morning. The kids are distracted with gifts and we power through a bottle of champagne. Ho ho ho!!

Hells - I agree about letting it sit. I have a feeling that if/when I go back to my courtesan story, I'd be able to rewrite/revise the crap out of it now.

As to your traditions, I like the birthday cake idea. But, I literally can not sign myself up for more cooking at CHristmas. LOL!!

The hubs and I took the boys last week to buy some toys and we let them donate them to Toys For Tots. I was incredibly proud of my oldest. I told him to pick something out for a girl, so there wasn't any hint of confusion on his part who the gift was being purchased for. He took it very seriously. Disney princess crap a go-go. But, the smile on his face was worth it when he donated. And the Marine who oversaw it all really made him feel like a hero. It was really sweet.




Marnee Bailey said...

Chantel - I've realized nothing I write down is worthless. Either it's there to jog my brain and give me the "real" story afterwards or it's something I can work with for the final draft. But, while I'm slinging it on the page, sometimes I forget that.

Marnee Bailey said...

I'm glad I gave you guys stuff to write about. I had a hard time coming up with a blog post for today. LOL!! My brain cells are exhausted from this revising. LOL

TerriOsburn said...

I realize I keep forgetting the tradition question. We always opened our presents first thing Christmas morning and I've kept that up with Kiddo. Though I only have her every other year. Which sucks. This year she flies out on Christmas Eve so we're opening gifts Saturday. If you hear an odd squealing noise coming from the mid-Atlantic coastal region, that will be her. :)

Marnee Bailey said...

Awh, that does suck about only every other year. But it's nice that the holiday is so close to the weekend this year. You can just pretend the weekend IS the holiday. :)

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

I too feel they are very different things.

I'm just starting the process, but I found these posts very helpful:

http://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com/rip-and-rebuild-revisions-part-1/

P. Kirby said...

I don't see rewriting and revision as different colored horses. But...I like revision, and rewriting is a part of my revision.

No tips from me because I just jump in and start.

Our Christmas Eve celebrations have a uniquely New Mexican flavor. Assuming it isn't too windy, we put out luminarias, which are little brown bags, filled about a third of the way with sand, and with a little candle inside. They get placed along the roofline (flat-roofed, pueblo style house), along the adobe wall, and down the driveway. Light the little candles and pretty, pretty.

Dinner is also New Mexican with tamales, posole, and green chile casserole. We also have traditional stuff like a roast and my FIL's cranberry cheesecake.

We open gifts on X-mas morning and some later in the afternoon over at the SIL's house. More dinner there.

Whew...All that yummy food. Must go run and extra mile.

TerriOsburn said...

"Must go run and extra mile."

I see what you did there. Yeah. Me too. An extra mile.

P. Kirby said...

I makes da typos.

:)

Maureen said...

Post its, story boards...it's all algebra to me. I do like this idea of listing the changes you feel you need to do and checking them off. I can do that with a shorter piece, but longer ones? That just sounds like quadrupling the work...

I'm sure it isn't, it's just my perception.

The cinnamon rolls are great. Talked with Mom last night and she said the soft shortening step has been replaced by oiling the bowl the dough rests in and rolling the ball of dough so it's coated at the top...means the dough doesn't crack or stick to the wax paper...or the bowl...

It's an old recipe!

We always unwrap gifts on Christmas morning. Never understood the doing it the night before stuff...though I assume the idea is that the kids won't wake the house up before first light...

Marnee Bailey said...

Sabrina - Thanks for the link, lovie!!

Pat- I love the idea of the New Mexico traditions. My sister lives in Jacksonville and in one section of town, for some festival (forget the name), they light luminaries up and down the sidewalks. It was very pretty.

And I love that kind of food. We eat Mexican and Tex-Mex here at least once a week. Luckily, the kids love it too. For me, the spicier the better. :)

Oh, and I'll run an extra mile too. But only if someone promises to chase me.

Mo - I'll keep that in mind. I am just a little afraid of yeast and yeast recipes. But I'll do what I can. :)

We open gifts in the AM because we've got some Santa believers. But when I was growing up, after my younger sister gave up the Claus, we started opening them after midnight mass. That way, we all could sleep in on Christmas morning.

MsHellion said...

We always opened gifts the night before because my parents clearly wanted to ruin Christmas by constantly pointing out that Santa does not exist.

However, I think when I was four I did get a tea set and I think it was from Santa, so I guess I had a year before they ruined it all.

My niece Amanda tells her daughter that Santa doesn't exist (the kid is only 6) because Amanda was pissed when she found out Santa didn't exist. *sighs*

TerriOsburn said...

Stop saying Santa doesn't exist or you're going to get underwear! *huffs* He DOES exist.

haleigh said...

We weren't allowed to have Santa when I was growing up (uber-religious parents). Do you know how hard it is to decorate and wrap presents with NO representations of Santa?

So my kiddo is going to get a lot of Santa. I love it. I've got the stockings hanging from the mantel ready to be filled overnight :)

MsHellion said...

I totally believe Santa exists. You need to send the underwear to Amanda--and I hope it's ugly underwear too. The wench.

No, my brother saved Santa for me. God bless big brothers and Santa.

Hal, were we raised in the same family and I didn't know it? If I had a kiddo, it would be Santa's Coming to Town all year long.

haleigh said...

Hellie, there are probably an absurd number of similarities. We lived in Nevada (the little town on the West side of Missouri, not the cool place where they have Vegas). Lot of Southern Baptist Church and religious expectations :)

Santa is such a part of the culture of being a kid at Christmas it would break my heart to purposely exclude my child from it. I just couldn't do it. Santa is coming to daycare Friday for milk and cookies, and I'm totally going too :)