Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite!

Hello there.

As I talked about last Friday, I have decided to rewrite my novella and turn it into a novel. Well, I am proud to announce that the rewrite has begun. All other projects, save one collaboration with another writer and of course my short stories, will be on hold until this rewrite is done.

From here on, this project will be called "Sister" for the sake of the blog, although that is not the true title of the work. If you have been a follower of my blog for a while, and have read my posts, then you know which project this is. After months upon months of putting it off, I have finally started rewriting it. It is a rather big undertaking. The novella has its moments that are extremely good, but for the most part, the writing skill is so varied that I am forced to just rewrite the entire thing and use the great parts in the new manuscript.

So this begs a question. Of course it does, do you not know me by now? There is always a question.

In rewrites, what kind of goal do you set? Me, I am hoping to get a chapter of writing rewritten a day, which means this project will be done within thirty days, give or take a few. Maybe forty days, as I have some extending to do.

When rewriting, do you take it as it comes, or do you make goals? This is my first major novel rewrite. I had a novel that I revised and revised and revised in, but never a total rewrite. The revise, revise, revise did not work for me. I ended up with jilted scenes and chapters that seemed unrelated to the true story even though they were... THAT novel is a total mess and it will take a lot of work to make it "doable" again. That novel, I am afraid, is one of those epic tales that spans generations and will be much larger than the 80,000 words it is now. But that is another topic altogether.

Rewriting a novel or novella is largely different than short story rewrites. I can write, rewrite, revise, edit and submit a short story in a single day. In hours, if I am really cooking. A novel... totally different story.

To be fair, even though "Sister" has been a long going on (read as years) project, it was written in a matter of months. It was simply that those months were spanned out over several years. So, I have some work ahead of me. The story arc is fairly consistent, but there are monsters around every corner, no redemption for my protagonist (how is that for fucked up?), and of course, tons of people die throughout the story. I admit that I like to kill main and or major characters. But that need not happen in all of my stories.

I am growing, people! It is a frigging miracle.

So, can I write a horror novel without killing loads of people? Sure I can. I can leave people alive. Does that mean no one will die?

Say it is not so!

Well, it is not so, people. I will kill someone... just not quite so many someones.

So, tell me a bit about rewriting the novels. It is a new experience for me and I would like some other takes on the experience.

And on Friday, along with my word counts, look for some news from me with... clickable linkage (haha, not clickable this time).

Bet you are really curious now huh?

Till then...

Peace & Love,


  1. Okay, Ellen, I'll bite.

    I never edit on a computer screen, until the end when I have to fix up typos. I can't do it. And I never (well, almost never) scribble on printouts, either. In other words, I ALWAYS REWRITE EVERYTHING. I sit there with the hard copy beside me, read it, and let my fingers type away. There's just something about looking at your own words that allows a disconnect, as if I'm rewriting someone ELSE's work. And that really helps, especially when it comes to slashing bits that, if I were to line edit myself, would find it hard to part with.

    As for goals, my only goal is to get it done in a respectable period of time. My chapters tend to be long (the second book of my "Rift" series is 403 pages and only 13 chapters), so in that way, I think a chapter a week would be respectable. But I don't even do that. I simply tell myself, "two months is a good period of time", and hold myself to it. Writing can be so organic for myself, so hard deadlines can be self-destructive. After all, what if I have a fantastic short story idea and I put it off and put it off and eventually just give up on ever writing it? I wouldn't want that for myself.

    And we're all murderers, by the way, even if you don't kill off a single character. The act of creation is like nature itself - you can't NOT kill something, even if that something is a situation or emotion. There hasn't been a piece of literature ever written that didn't include the destruction of one thing or another.

    So there you go. Not sure if that answers your question or not, but it was good to expand upon this theme.

    Thanks, E


  2. WOW! Congrats Girly!!

    As for your question, I don't think there is ever limitations on rewrites. I have found that I've written a novel and gone back and rewritten it entirely because the plot line changes for the better. I'm not one to say "This is how it should be done" ever. But I'm also a firm believer in allowing the story to flow naturally. If there is a hole/snag the capper is that we can always go back and fix it. That's what is important to remember. Keep the frame, spackle the holes after the rewrite.

    With the new rewrite, just let it come if some of the older "better" parts don't work for the story, then they don't. It's basically a new version of the better stronger writer you've become, things are going to come out of the woodwork you may not expect.

    Wow, I'm on a garble rampage with this eh? (Sorry, I've just started this experience myself and after beating my head up against the computer screen for the last couple of months and then finally chalking the old MS, apparently I feel as though I've learned something myself :P) I'm not saying that will happen to you, I'm just saying to keep your mind open yo!

    As for goals, whatever works for a specific writer. I find that posting my goals really helps me see what I've accomplished because even though I can write 10k a week if I can't see it in #'s or something I feel like I haven't done anything. I like my goals.

    As for SISTER, I remember some warblings about it. :P GOOD LUCK!! Call me if you need some cheerleading. I'll pull out my pom-poms (cut right from a cheerleader, I think her hands are still grasping tightly to the handles actually. :D I was never a cheerleader).

    Hugs to you girl!! Proud of you for growing!! I know you can do it.

    Rust and Nails!

  3. Bravo! RE-writes are laborious tasks, a gut-wrenching undertaking. Keep at it. In the end, you'll make the right decisions and the story will be much stronger for them.

  4. Effie

    I think that you will find the best way to work on this on your own. Trial and error hon.

    For me, I like to scribble and slash the pages. Make notes on what I want to change and why. Oh and post-it-notes. esp when I have a lot to say lol.

    But good luck. You will find what works for you.

  5. For those that follow this blog, Ellen is my actual, birth given name. I don't mind people knowing that or calling me by name, but I write as Effie Collins, which is why I post as "Effie", since this is my writing blog. Just so everyone knows why sometimes people call me "Ellen". Cause it's my name! ;)

    @Robert: That's an interesting way to do it. I hadn't thought about doing it that way, for some reason the computer screen seems easier. I can switch between the documents, read a bit, then go back to the rewrite and proceed. That's just another wonderful thing about writers. We all do things differently. Where your chapters are long, mine are shorter with a few longish ones thrown in. I have thirty-three chapters in my actual novel (the finished one that reads like hackwork) and "Sister" will end up at around maybe 24-28 chapters, depending.

    And your expansion on this post gives others an alternative to think about as well, and not just me. Thanks, man. :)

    @Hinny: Me letting the story flow naturally is what got me in this mess, chickie! :) In my own dream world, I'd like to have a clean first draft... as clean as my short stories come out on first draft. Since this is a rewrite, it'll be a new first draft. I'm not thinking of it as revision and expansion. It's a total rewrite, but I'm following the same basic story arc and using the same characters. It will just (hopefully) be a better book. One I could publish. Maybe. Eventually.

    @KBCutter: I plan to keep at it. I'm tired of seeing the novellas/novels I worked so hard on for years just sitting there collecting cyber dust. It's time to start working on them and making them publishable. My works in progress are at a standstill anyhow, because I can't get the finished ones out of my head. So, I'm reworking and fixin my finished fiction before I move forward. Then I'll have three novels ready to go out while I work on others. I'm... *shudders* organizing.

  6. @Shadow: I think I have already. I'm pretty sure this is going to work for me, but we'll see. I was mostly just curious as to how others go about it.

  7. I enjoy rewrites even more than writing. The story is already there so the rewrite is my chance to tinker with details.

    Like Robert, I work best with a hard copy beside my computer. I can spread it out, quickly reference or check continuity, highlight, scribble, and then carry it to my wife for her opinion (which I will completely disregard).

    I have one novel completed. I've been rewriting it for ten years, mostly on advice from books and people that claim to know what publishers want. I really screwed up the beginning the last time trying yo give them a punch opening. So, one more rewrite at least (once I start I cannot 'not' go the whole way through it).

    I've finally decided since no two publishers want the same thing that no one is qualified to tell me what publishers want, so I'm discarding the last rewrite and I'll start again from a previous version. I'll write it the way I like it.

  8. Very cool, Eff. I don't have much in words of wisdom, since I haven't written anything that long yet, but I do know it's a slow process working within a previously written manuscript, even if it's just a short story.

    Through trial and error, I've begun rewriting from scratch. But that's on old stories; those early tales that have great ideas but bad execution, for whatever reason. I imagine as you progress as a writer you'll have to do this less and you'll be able to edit within the manuscript as there won't be as many mistakes.

    Good luck, though! =) I look forward to the day I start a novel. Hell, a novella! I also look forward to your novel. =)

  9. @KWood: Thanks. I look forward to my novel too. I have a couple of movels that I think are good enough, original enough stories to get published. It's just that I wrote them before I was ready and my skill wasn't up to what I was trying to write. I think I *might* be ready, so I'm going to try it out and see.

    The first chapter is rewritten entirely and I already like it better than I did the first one... the original. At least I have that. :)

    @JJ: I can't say this is my first novel. It's the second one I started... the fifth one I'll finish. Sadly, I think it'll be the first one of publishable quality. At least I hope it turns out that way.

  10. When I rewrite I rewrite everything. Doesn't mean I don't keep some of the old but I always retype every word. It helps me keep the flow between new and old.

    I also tend to: work from an outline, write from beginning to end as much as I possibly can, and kill anything (words, I mean) that doesn't work with the story. Even if it's a scene I love.

    In November '08 I wrote a novel for NaNoWriMo. I'm now on the fourth draft. I don't think at this point there is anything directly taken from the rough draft to the current one. (The story arc is mostly the same, as are the characters, but the words are all different.) It's been a hairpullingly frustrating thing editing and rewriting like this. But the novel is tons better now. It wouldn't have been if I hadn't committed to rewriting rather than simply editing.

    I hope you find the same kind of accomplishment with your novella-to-novel rewrite.

  11. Thank you A.G. :) Appreciate it. I'm dead set on rewriting this. When I started it, it was a slow burning fire... and now it's like a forest fire. It's the only thing I really want to work on. Since I have that direction and drive for it, I'm rolling with it and writing my buns off.

  12. Well, you know I'm a wing-it kind of writer so I don't really have any concrete advice, but what about writing a synopsis for the novel? Sort of a loose outline for where you want the story to go? As you rewrite the story itself, you can edit the synopsis to make sure any changes and additions still fit your vision of the tale itself.