Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Editing, Rewriting, Revision

Whatever you want to call it, it's hard.

I am currently working on two books that I finished last year. In my mind, they were finished and just needed a little polishing.  Then I went back and read them.  Of course, I found stuff I wanted to change.  At first, it was small stuff, a word here and a word there.  Then I decided to change one of the major characters.  I only wanted to change one thing about her, and I didn't think it would be a big deal.  WRONG!  Changing one small fact about this girl threw off the whole story.  I found place after place that I needed to redo or get rid of completely.  After a while I had to admit that I totally screwed up my story.  It is a big mess now.

So what do I do?  I've considered changing her back to the way she was, but it wasn't working.  I thought about trashing the whole book and starting over, but that seems a bit excessive. 

My books are incredibly complicated.  There are several characters, plot twists, pieces that interlock so well that if I change something the whole house of cards topples over.  I was wondering about other writers.  When you finish a book and go back to revise, do you have this problem?  Or are you usually lucky enough to have a good book that just needs polishing? 


mooderino said...

The problem you describe is fairly common i think, and even if you had meticulously planned things out ahead of time I don;t think it would have prevented this sort of thing.

I don't know if this would work for you but I would go through the story making a short summary of each scene, who's in it, what they do, on index cards and spreadit out on the floor so you can see the general drift of the story.

I would colour code for different characters and subplots, and make it clear where there's a hole or something doesn't work, and try to see it from an overview position.

Hopefully this will help you see where you need things and who needs to be there to do it.

Hope it works out for you. I just did a post on rewriting too, but I don't think it'll help in this particualr case.


Stephanie said...

It sounds like you've already changed a lot of stuff. I think your best course of action at this point will be to read through the book a few times and continue making the changes. Of course, if you're unsatisfied with the changes, then I'd change it back. Either way, it sounds like you'll just have to comb through the book a few times.

K. C. Blake said...

It's starting to come together now. I do write down every scene in every chapter, but I don't put them on index cards. Maybe I should try that.

Jenn said...

I would say anyone who's thought seriously about writing has at one point or another had that problem. The one rough draft I managed to finish got put back into the WIPs file after I went to edit it and needed to change so many things that I felt I needed to start from scratch because even though I'd written the end, the story wasn't right, wasn't there and wasn't anything I wanted to submit to anyone. The fact that it's still in that file cabinet collecting dust two years later and still remains the only rough draft I've ever completed novel wise says something about why I'm reviewing books instead of writing them. You've decided to take the leap and be the writer, I think having the perseverance to go back through and make those changes so that the story seems right will be worth the time and frustration in the long run. Being the writer who doesn't publish until the story feels right means the difference between the oh she published a book no one read and she published a book and she's on the best seller list in my personal opinion. Hopefully that made sense, I know it did inside my head. Best of luck.

K. C. Blake said...

Thanks, Jenn.

To me, revisions partly suck, but are very challengins, and I love the feeling when it finallys comes together. Of course, you can't please everyone. The wide reactions my book has gotten make me laugh sometimes. The things some people complain about are things other people loved. I try to just laugh it off and keep writing.

Nick Sawatsky said...

Writing is rewriting. We cringe at that little line, but it's very true. When I read success stories from published authors they almost always say that they wrote, rewrote, and rewrote... the majority of the manuscript. It's a fever, like what is/was happening to you. Dominoes.