March 12, 2010

Rewrite Update

I’m working on rewrites for book number three, and I submitted the rewritten partial to my editor about two weeks ago. Of course that’s always nail biting and I think I might have worked out what makes major revisions, to me, so hard to get a good read on.

I think going through revisions, or a rewrite, you have to be willing to detach from your work somewhat so that you can gain an objective focus and move forward with your editors advice without allowing lingering ‘oh, but I love that parts!’ to get in the way of writing the best MS you possibly can.

So, it’s a good thing, but then, it’s also tough, because with that detachment, at least for me, my emotions aren’t as ‘in it’ while I’m writing. When I’m finished and I get editorial approval…oh, yeah, all the love is back! And it isn’t that I don’t *like* what I’m doing per se, it’s just a different part of the process, a different feeling that goes into a rewrite.

But my general angstiness was relieved today when my editor emailed me with some AMAZING feedback on the partial. So I’m pressing forward on the full feeling better than I have. I’m halfway through the rewrite and I feel ready to pounce on it tonight!! Amazing what a little bit of encouragement from an editor can do. πŸ™‚ My CPs were keeping me on life support in the meantime. πŸ˜€

So what, if anything, feels different about the rewriting/revisions process to you, versus writing that first, uneditorized draft?


Comments

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  1. Maisey – am loving your posts about rewrites at the moment, cos I’m right there beside ya. I feel exactly the same… the story I originally subbed (way back yonder) is SOOOOOOOOOOO different from the one I’m working on now. And I do llike it, but like you said, I feel not quite so emotionally involved and that makes rewrites brain-stretching!

    Speaking of which… better get onto rewriting my chap five.

    HATE HATE HATE the fact that I’m gonna have to lose most of it – including some really cool lines that when I wrote them I thought – WOW, did I really write that??

    πŸ™‚

  2. Yeah, like Rach I hate losing stuff that I’m pleased with. But if it’s necessary I now cut rather than trying to work things to fit the existing plot. For me, rewriting is ALWYS the way to go. And it’s ALWAYS better too! I often get re-excited about a ms with rewriting because I can see how much better the story will be.

  3. Rach, I know exactly what you mean. Those moments when you really can’t quite believe that you really wrote that are amazing, and it sucks to have to lose things that you really love.

    But, Jackie, I’m so with you. Rewrites make things better. They are a stretch, and it’s in that stretching that growth as a writer comes. If I hadn’t gone through the rewrite of my first MS, I don’t think I would have sold that MS, let alone the next one. It forced me to totally rethink how I looked at conflict, story structure, characterization. The basic tools were there in that MS, just not fully realized and it was through disassembling, and then reassembling that I really learned more of what I was doing.

    Still not perfect, obviously, as I’m still doing rewrites! But I really do love it, and I have more faith in it being better now. But it can be hard to see it right when you’re in it and go ‘oh, yeah, this is genius!’ because you were sure enough about the version before and it wasn’t right and you really question your own instincts, I think.

    But at some point, you just have to let go and seriously GO FOR IT. As I’ve said, with that first MS, when I deleted half of it and totally rewrote from the middle on, I just thought, ok, this is it, I have to really make it something spectacular. If they have to ask me to pull back, fine, but I’d rather show them I can really go all out, than continually have them asking for more emotion, more glamour, more passion…etc.

  4. Hi Maisey,

    Your posts on the hard work involved in being a published author are fascinating.

    If you feel comfortable with discussing this, I would love to know what the extensive rewrites of the second half of your first ms involved? For example, developing internal conflict, change in plot, etc. I can imagine it must be really tough to cut half of the ms and start again since it involves a whole change in thinking about the story.

  5. Angie, I don’t mind discussing it at all! Without spoilers, of course! πŸ˜‰

    There were a few things, the two most major being that from that middle point on, I think the scenes just weren’t tight enough. Too many secondary characters, too much ‘stuff’ not enough attention paid to the characters and the developing romance. The biggest issue though, was the conflict. The black moment was triggered by an external force (crazy ex-girlfriend, eg, plot device) rather than it coming from within my hero and heroine.

    Now, I think the reason I was asked for a rewrite, rather than being rejected at this point is that the internal conflict was there, it just wasn’t the driving force of the story. So, by going back and reconstructing from there on, I was able to tighten scenes, bring forward one of the plot elements to add a ‘twist’ to the middle, emphasize their internal conflict, and the most important thing I did was remove the secondary characters that were manipulating things.

    In the original end I think they went to a party, crazy ex girlfriend (cegf) was there, and then she showed up later to cause trouble…blah blah blah. When I did the rewrite I cut the other characters, the party, all of the ‘stuff’. And I brought it back down to my H and h. The material was there, that internal conflict was there, but I’d been so focused on all that outside stuff, I’d used that to make drama and tension. Taking it away, it had to come from within my characters. Their issues came to the surface and they had to be dealt with.

    The plot stayed the same, scenes changed but followed a similar pattern, but the focus, more than anything changed. It went to the characters, the relationship.

    Oh, and I made the hotel more glamorous, moved it’s location, and added a private island. πŸ˜€

    Any more questions, feel free to ask!

  6. Thanks for sharing, Maisey! Sounds so simple when you put it like that, but putting it into practice is another story, LOL. Can’t wait to read your debut once it’s released πŸ™‚

  7. Been lurking, but had to come out and say…
    I enjoy reading about your writing path. I’m on the same path, not yet published. So thanks for the insight.

  8. I think what I love about first drafts is all that freedom, all that white space to fill with your words. You can go with what your gut tells you because it’s all brand new.

    Then revisions give you the chance to go back and correct those mistakes that you made when you were so on fire you didn’t realise your plot had taken a turn for the worse!! It gives you the opportunity to flesh out the emotion and make sure your conflicts are at the forefront. Of course, not having had any revisions other than self imposed ones I might just be making all that up!!

    It’s interesting re. outside factors, I had an alcoholic brother causing the black moment in my Presents Comp. chapter. When I had my one to one meeting with Kate Walker, she pointed at my synopsis and said “lose the external, kill the brother”. I was heartbroken, I loved my guitar playing Spanish alky brother but it seems that less is more as far as secondary characters go in a MH/Presents.

  9. Angie, yeah it *does* sound simple. I thought so as I wrote it! Yet, I find that I’m still having to go back and correct a lot of the same tendencies. I have not broken all of my bad habits, but I’m able to beat them into submission now!

    Marcie, so glad that the site has been helpful to you! Best of the luck on the journey! πŸ™‚

    Jo, Kate was absolutely right! (ha! Big surprise…Kate’s always right! ;-)) Especially in regards to the black moment, it’s much stronger when triggered by issues within the h and H. That’s what causes real change, real conflict, real resolution. It’s what makes us believe in the HEA. If it’s their own issues in their way, then that conflict is what bubble to the surface, causing your black moment, then those internal struggled have to be beaten in order for them to get their HEA. That makes for good, believable character development, an engaging, believable story, and people we’re really rooting for and who we can believe in!

  10. Great post Maisey. I had a similar experience to Jo’s when I pitched to Donna. In my story I had my characters forced together due to a third party. A friend of the hero’s who he wants to help. Donna very astutely suggested that maybe it would be better if the person who was in trouble was the heroine, rather than a third person. I didn’t continue with this story, but she was right. Making it all about the hero and heroine ensured that the focus was squarely on the two of them, not the interesting third character.

  11. Yeah, it’s tough in a short romance. In longer single titles you have the freedom to have some other characters or even additional POVs, but while you don’t want it to seem like they live in a vacuum and that they’re the only two people on the planet, those other characters really need to stay background in the categories! Although there’s more room for them in Blaze and Historical, I think, than in Presents.

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