Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Rewrite Process

I feel that my approach to writing is different from what I hear from other writers. Some say, "The characters just take over the story." Others say they write in a stream of consciousness and things eventually come together.

None of that has ever happened to me.

Am I doing something wrong?

As a writer, I have to know where I'm going. That's not to say that I'm inflexible. I often make changes, but I just feel like I'm spinning my wheels and wasting time if I don't at least have a destination in mind.

Right now I'm in serious Rewrite Mode. A month ago, I finished the third draft of BLUFF and the going is slow.

In book one, FAST TRACK, my rewrite task was to whittle the manuscript down from the original 130,000-word mishmash to the lean 76,000-word version that was released in hardcover more than a year ago. (A trade paperback re-issue is in the works). But now, my problem is just the opposite: the structure is solid, but the ms is an anemic 56,000 words.

During the month or so it took me to revise the third draft, I brooded over a list of scenes I made that gives me an overview of the story, including key plot pivot points.

I did a LOT of brooding, almost to the point of being Nixonesque.

But I made progress. I rearranged some things, did a better job of camouflaging the villain, added tantalizing red herrings, and did a better job of playing up one of the scapegoat characters. It felt great, but when I did an actual word count, I'd only fattened things up by fewer than 10,000 words. I have to add another 15,000 before my agent will even take a serious look at it.

So, that's my dilemma: I have a solid story -- and it's getting better. I can feel it. But I have to find ways to add texture and depth in ways that aren't just padding, but actually reinforce the story.

So, the brooding will continue.

And I'll write, too, in hopes that something miraculous will happen as I type.

It'll be a step of faith.

I'll let you know what happens, and I'll look forward to any thoughts on creativity you might have.
To be continued......


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