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?