Knock, knock. Here’s trouble. We all have them, don’t we? Why wouldn’t we, we’re constantly surrounded by the most dangerous species on this planet…HUMANS. The thing is, it would be boring without them. Our troubles teach us so many things. We learn, we evolve, we become better versions of ourselves.
Doesn’t the same apply to our unsuspecting characters? We would never want to read a story about a character who is fully content and has absolutely no problems or cares in the world. He’s just breezing through the story with a smile plastered on his perfect, symmetrical face. BORING. We want characters with hidden scars and secrets. Even better if we only get to find out a few, as long as we know they’re all there. They don’t call it ‘sweet sorrow’ for nothing. Our characters should face their demons and come out victorious because all their troubles have prepared them for it. That’s what makes the ride worth it, at least, for me.
Sure, trouble isn’t always fun, but the main thing to remember is that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Let our characters show us that there is hope and that we are strong, but even stronger than we know.
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?