From caterpillar to butterfly, let the transformation continue.

Once upon a time while I was writing this one novel my muse would not let me think of anything else but the story. I immersed myself in the new world that was unfolding in front of me so much that I couldn’t even shower without plotting it out in my head. I wrote so many words for it that in my first editing sweep I cut a quarter of what I had written. I then set it aside and left it for dead because I was just not sure it was working out. It was a story my muse was desperate for me to tell but I lacked the ability to do it justice. I found myself in a nightmarish limbo like place with a finished manuscript that I realised was not really finished.

Then recently I picked it up and dusted it off so to speak and realised it was dead as it was but perhaps I could breathe some life into it after all.  So now I am rewriting.

Rewriting is a two part process. The line editing part I find quite enjoyable. It is a bit like walking into the living room and thinking that perhaps the couch might look a bit better with a throw cushion on it or deciding to buy a nice vase for on the mantle. As I line edit, the sentences are analysed, the words are changed and voilà I have a shinier better looking sentence.

The restructuring part I am finding to be much less enjoyable but even more necessary. This is like walking into that same living room and thinking, “Why did I ever think that pink polka dotted couch would go nicely with these red striped walls and when did I put that purple fur all over the mantle. Since I am doing work in here, I think I will also build an extension.” This is the part where I realised too much back story is dumped in the first three chapters and perhaps it would be a bit better being cut altogether or gently sprinkled throughout the story. This is where I realised there is far too much narrative and not enough dialogue. This is where I noticed timeline issues. This is where the real work and real writing is taking place.

What have I learned from this already. Outlining this novel in the first place may have made things go smoother (it was written back when I was still a pantser) but even when things seem to be going all wrong, they still may be salvaged and hopefully morphed into something beautiful.

Have you ever turned a novel around drastically during rewriting? How do you go about rewriting?



About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a primary and middle school teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three and a wannabe author.
This entry was posted in Writing Journey and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to From caterpillar to butterfly, let the transformation continue.

  1. evocative embrace says:

    with lots and lots of patience and an open mind….enjoy the process : )

  2. Selena says:

    Love the furniture analogy. I have done that, and it sort of freaked me out, because my novel changed completely. Or should I say, is still changing. I think that letting it sit idle for a time really helps, but it also means that my viewpoint has changed. Either way, it’s rough trying to decide what to do with that pink polka dotted couch! Great post!

    • Yeah, I think that couch got donated to a charity shop! I suppose I am reconciling this process with the notion that my viewpoint has changed over time but hopefully my skill has improved.

  3. scribbla says:

    “This is where the real work and real writing is taking place.” This is key. Writing is rewriting. And outlining is really important if you don’t like massive rewrites.

    • So very true and the novel that I am currently writing has been fully planned and outlined to hopefully prevent so much rewriting when the editing stage comes. I have always been someone that has to learn the hard way though.

  4. Gene Lempp says:

    Best of luck with the rewrite Billie Jo! Success favors the bold and this is a bold move on your part.

  5. I’ve written two novels and they both changed dramatically during rewrites. It’s made me look at writing a third much differently because I feel the books wouldn’t change so much if I were planning as effectively as possible before starting.

    • That is exactly what I am finding. I have two completed works that are both a mess and need rewrites but they were both written without any planning at all. Since I have become a plotter my works seem more concise the first time around. The novel I had been working on this summer hopefully will not need as much work when I go to edit it.

  6. Marcia says:

    Good luck, Billie Jo. I’m looking at doing that down the road with my WIP. Just reading a few chapters back and realizing it needs a total revamping when I’m completely done with the 1st draft. I agree, letting it site for a little bit all by itself, helps you look at it more clearly. Thanks for joining me at my blog. It’s so nice to meet you!

  7. I find the more I know what my tale is about, the easier it all comes out. But, having said that, I still never plot on paper, although it could be said that all first drafts are just elaborate outlines. Mine certainly are. But if I know what the story is about I just blaze ahead and write. So I usually think about a story for a loooong time before ever sitting down to write it.
    Any story I try to write without this long thinking process first, turns out to be crap. Which is so disappointing, because there’s often some nice writing in there, but without knowing what the story is about when I sit down, the thing just won’t ever jell.

    • I knew the story inside and out but I suppose I just fell into the trap of just telling and not showing the story. It was flat and colourless. It also was told from one perspective, I have added some dream sequences that give it another dimension, I suppose It needed more oomph more than anything so that is what it is getting!

  8. Lara Dunning says:

    I like your couch comparison. Brought a smile to my face as I knew that feeling exactly. I’ve got a story that needs some serious re-writing done to it. I’ve done a little here and there, but there are still some things I need to work out and I’m hoping over time it all falls into place in my head. I know fixing it, will be worth it, but the task feels momumental at times. Good luck with your re-writing.

  9. Jody Moller says:

    I completely agree with you Billie Jo I like the line editing part too but the major rewrites are hard. I think that is where beta readers can come in useful sometimes you are just too close to the project to be able to see what needs to be changes (or often you know it needs to be fixed but can’t work out how to do it!)

    • I have just lined up three beta readers, one is a high school English teacher, one is a 14 year old girl and the other is a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan. I agree, their input will be so valuable!

  10. I just finished a rewrite. I thought I was done six months ago when I got truly excellent advice to restructure parts. The moment I heard this man’s ideas/they resonated. So I did. Therefore, yes, I have restructured. This time, it came out better though we’ll see when I send the queries out!

    • Thank you for commenting. The queries will definitely be the test when I get it to that point. I used your writer’s tips as a bit of a check list to see if I was on the right track, thankfully I am!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s