And there it is: a plot hole, a character that doesn’t feel quite real, a motivation that is lacking. There’s always something you find could use improving if you take out a magnifying glass and look through it with a reader’s brain instead of a writer’s heart.
And therein lies the rub. Once a story has been written, whether it’s a first draft or not, it’s hard for the writer to erase those words from paper. I like to see it as the power of the written word. They plant their roots in paper and it’s hard for the writer to pull them out, since he was the one who planted them in the first place.
This is why reliable ninja readers are so important, they weren’t there when you planted those words and they only care about how they look when bloomed. And this is also why you should let your story simmer before rereading it. Then you’ll be able to read it more as a reader, as opposed to a writer. Also, your subconscious knows so much, so be sure to take notes about which doubts are shouting at the back of your head. Chances are, if you have a strict ninja reader, that he’ll point out the things you suspected and this will make your inner (re)writer’s hands itch. No writer wants to pee in his own shoe. We want our story to be the best that it can be and we are the only ones that can make that happen.
Now comes the tricky part, which is to actually incorporate those changes necessary to benefit your story. The story is an intrinsically woven web of multi-coloured threads. Pull on one of them and the entire thing could collapse. And since I wing it more than I plan it, I find it difficult to uncover a way that works for me and doesn’t involve a lot of grunting, sighing, muttering and complaining on Twitter. What once really helped me was writing down the situation at the beginning and at the end of the novel and work my way to the middle, writing down the scenes that needed to come after the beginning and before the end. It’s a great way to plan your novel and keep sight of the thread that binds all the scenes together. You’re forced to ask yourself: What needs to happen in order to get to that next point?
So, keeping in mind the changes I need to make, I think I’ll use this method to determine where and how new scenes need to take place. (Easier said than done!) And I’ll probably still complain on Twitter.
This leads me to my question for all of you fellow writers, how do YOU rewrite?
It is nearly the end of the month, so you know what means…another writing project finished. Well, a first draft, but that means the hardest part is over. At least, I consider that the hard part. It’s easy for me to work with a sketch/blueprint of a story. I’ve never been a crazy reviser. Some writers make whole outlines and travel to distant lands to receive wise words from a sorcerer when they start revising…okay, maybe not that last one. In my case, with my finished story, I wrote along the way. At some point I changed the plot so I started over, using some of the pages that I could from the old version and just wrote. Along the way, I’d see if it made sense, but I knew where I wanted to go. The only rewriting that needed to be done after that was the phrasing of words, making sure it’s not too wordy and other syntax related changes. I suppose it’s good to know that I don’t write in such a way that I have to change scenes here and there and really cut it up and paste it again. Usually when I know the direction I want to go in, I can write it like I’d read it.
Having said that, now that I’ve finished another project, it’s time to revise the first one. The cosy mystery. TUM TUM TUM TUM. In this case, I feel like I really just wrote it to be quick and get the basic idea down, so I do feel like I will need to work hard to get the characterisation right and the plot, the atmosphere. The Writing Guidelines are different for cosy mysteries than for the other stories I’ve been writing so perhaps that is why I need to reread it with fresh eyes. I felt like something was missing. That is also why I ordered a cosy mystery and started reading it to get in the right mind set. I think what I’m missing has something to do with the characters. Cosy mysteries usually have a lot of minor characters, but I don’t like too many minor characters, I need to give them something special to set them apart and in this case, I didn’t feel the need for certain characters. Or scenes for that matter. But with cosy mysteries, cosy is very important. Characters need to be there to provide comic relief even though they don’t contribute (much) to the plot and the same with certain scenes. They need to add to the cosy vibe. So instead of asking myself: Does this character contribute to the plot? Or does this scene contribute to the story? I need to ask myself: Does this character make the story more cosy? Does this scene make it cosy? Which is why I’m soaking up the cosy vibe with other books.
This is also why they say writers should read. It really helps to take away what not to do and what to do from an already written story in your genre. So get your read on…and then your write on!
In the meantime here is the final sentence of the story about the girl with multiple personalities:
After all, most of the time, the only person who can lighten up a dark room, is you.