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How Do You Know When to Rewrite a Novel?

            Lady Dae has been doing a little too much editing, well more so proofreading, because this blog has gone on the backburner while I got my novel ready for the world to see. If I don’t stop now, I’ll never stop. But I’m always talking about knowing when to stop, but never when to keep writing.

            A fellow writer was talking about how she’s going to go back and rewrite her novel after realizing it’s not up to par. Well, how do you know if that’s the decision you need to go with? It’s not an easy decision to come to. I rewrote the novel that I’ve been proofreading all week, four times over before I finally put a pen in it and decided it really is written as best as it can be.

            What were the problems that warranted a rewrite before? Well for one, in the earlier two versions of my novel, there were a ton of scenes that shouldn’t have been there to begin with that made my novel clunky and messed up pacing because it was obvious I was just trying to fill in a bunch of words. The next and most obvious problem was that of the plot. Not only was it slow, but it wasn’t strong enough. The events that were happening were important overall, but the they way they were happening weren’t interesting because it was bogged down by dialogue and info dumps that took away from what was going on in the name of trying to keep a word count.

            In my first three drafts, I had the problem of unimportant characters and situations. To rectify the problem, I blended characters who had similar roles. That also helped me keep better track of the story.

            Another problem I had was that the story took too long to get into, and that remained to my fourth draft, when after having not looked at my first novel in years, I dusted it off, saw how much I had improved and rehauled it. I alluded to what the story was for three chapters before I got to it and the more interesting tidbits. At this point, I said to hell with reaching a certain word count. I needed a nice and tidy novel.

            Another problem that had to be rectified was the fact that I hated one of my main character’s names. Then there was the complexity of the story and the plot. Over the years I’ve perfected my ability to have fairly simple plots with a good sense of complexity, so I incorporated that new skill into my writing. Then there was the fact that I went and learned all the general rules of formatting and grammar, and made sure I proofread the entire novel from beginning to end, even the scenes that weren’t my favorite. I got rid of has, have, and had where I could, learned the technicalities of parts of speeches and carefully analyzed words and their diction to make sure I was getting across what I intended for the sake of clarity.

            All in all, it took years to get this story in shape, but as a result I can now write a first draft without most of these typos and only have to worry about a typo here and rewriting a scene or two there.

            The point? If you notice that you have these problems and not the kind that can be solved once you go back and edit through, you might consider salvaging what you can and rewriting the rest. Again, this is up to the call of the writer. Better to figure out something needs to be rewritten early on than to ship it out to agents and figure out that you have one hell of a problem in the form of the mess that might be your problem.

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~Charity~ said...

I nominated you for the Sunshine Blog award. Details on my blog; just click my name. Enjoy!

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