Monday, September 19, 2011

Revision Vs. Rewrites

It's funny how much of the plotting process is about sitting and staring into space. I spent several hours today staring into space and trying to unravel a plot knot I'd worked myself into. I knew I wanted my character to get to Point B, but after getting notes back from my editor, I realized she has to get there a different way than how I'd written it.

Which means, you guessed it: Rewrites. Completely rewriting scenes makes me grouchy. I far prefer revision, just editing and tweaking what's already on the page. Rewrites mean throwing out old pages and writing new ones. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not grouchy that things need to change, but that I didn't take the time to fully think the situations through in the first place. I look at the lovely pages that will just have to be completely sacked. I think about how much time it took to write those pages. I make a grouchy face.

Then, I sit and stare into space, trying to figure exactly HOW I'm going to unravel this mess with the new angle on the scene (i.e., remove all adults, have our plucky teenage heroes do it on their own). And how to do it logically so that the suspension of disbelief can be achieved as seamlessly as possible.

So today, instead of piling up word count as I like to do, or editing through and then satisfyingly marking a chapter off my mental map, I scribbled on notebook page after notebook page trying out ideas and solutions before I commit to them. Answering questions like:
  • Can I get BOTH characters to point B logistically, or does it work better if one stays behind?
  • If only my main character goes, should she do it one way, or another way?
  • Is it too much of a coincidence if this other thing happens while she's there, or is there a way I can make it feel natural? Maybe if I drop a foreshadow-y feeder hint ahead of time, it won't seem so oddly coincidental. In fact, I need to make it part of the cause-and-effect cycle (A causes B which causes C, and then it's not so odd when A comes back around again and surprises everyone), and it will feel even more logical.
Some things, you just can't see ahead of time until your Very Smart Editor points them out , even if you're big on outlining like me. Rewrites (unfortunately!!!) are part of the game. But still, I'm going to make sure I spend extra time sitting and staring into space to REALLY think out scenes for the next book before I write them, especially ones that are kind of iffy (yes, I'm looking at you, opening scenes of next book, I can smell from here I haven't fully thought you out yet).


  1. I don't much care for rewrites either. I remember long before ALTERED sold, my agent asked me to rethink a plot thread for books #2 and #3. I spent an entire lunch hour doing nothing but sitting in a chair with my eyes closed. Thankfully, by the time I had to return to work, I had the solution! It was extremely exhilarating, tho. Sometimes a writer just needs to think and do nothing else. It's like running a marathon in your head.

  2. Lol, YES, running a marathon in my own head, love that. And absolutely, when solutions arise, it's seriously the coolest feeling in the world :)