Scenes from The Rewrite

As you may know, I’ve been rewriting my novel.

I started on the 11th January and I finished the main* part of the book at 1:17am this morning, after a thirteen hour writing stint that surely put me at risk for curvature of the spine, RSI and deep vein thrombosis.

This isn’t because my agent is some kind of task-master, but because this gap – from the first day I returned to university after Christmas and had handed in my Michaelmas term essays, to this coming Friday when my next two essays are assigned – was the only time I had. If the rewrite ran over, it would clash with my essay-writing. If it ran over again, it would clash with studying for and then taking my exams in May. The summer is reserved for (a) being horizontal, preferably in a sunny place with a view of a pool, a stack of the all the books I haven’t read since last summer within easy reach and (b) writing the first draft of another book. (Sweet baby Jesus.) So I had to put a lifetime’s habit of procrastination and deadline-avoiding to one side and just get on with it.

I’m writing a post for another website on how exactly I managed to do that, but since this blog is but a stretch of hot, black tarmac for some tumbleweeds to run across, I thought I’d share some scenes from The Rewrite this morning, just so you know moi’s little pink blog is still alive.

The Rewrite wasn’t supposed to be too structural, as in none of the major plot points needed fixing. This was more a case of deepening characterization (I LOVE plotting but sometimes I, ahem, forget to flesh out the people the stuff is happening to), ironing out a few rough edges and just making everything stronger and clearer and more convincing.

But you change one thing…

I wasn’t at the end of the second chapter and things were already getting twistier than a Curly-Wurly. So I turned to my forever friends, Post-Its. And then because I needed somewhere to stick them, I printed out charts, one for each act. And then I had to get a calendar so I could keep track of my progress, and then I had to make a calendar for the book so I could keep track of what happened when, and then I had to make a scene list because I wasn’t sure where the B story chapters were going to go and then I keeled over and wondered why my dream wasn’t just to see the Grand Canyon or something, you know, doable.

(Although that was one of my other dreams. And I did get to see the Grand Canyon.)

In the end though, I did it. I have to say that when you have a twisty, complicated plot, writing fast is a huge advantage. Whenever I was forced to take a couple of days’ break, it took me a while to get back up to speed with who was where and why and what was supposed to happen next and what thread I was supposed to be picking back up, but when I wrote everyday, all that stuff just stayed in my head. (Mostly. When it didn’t: Post-Its.)

Now I’m going to leave it for a few days before I do a typo-hunt and consistency check and also, because this book is a logistical nightmare, a list of who knows what when, so I can check I haven’t made any plotting decisions that could only be explained by coincidence, psychic abilities or Oceanic Flight 815.

Then I’m going to put on my PJs, order in and binge-watch the shite out of something.

THE END.

(Until next week.)

*My book has a main, A story that takes up 80% of it. Two other characters have chapters that are interspersed throughout the main plot, which isn’t really a B story technically speaking but that’s just what I call it for ease. 

24 thoughts on “Scenes from The Rewrite

  1. J Hardy Carroll says:

    Great post. I’ve found the the first revision is the hardest and most traumatic. All that stuff I thought was so great turns out to be extraneous and confusing. And exactly when did I switch the tense to present? Uh oh. Whose POV is this, anyway?
    But look there… that’s a gem. And pretty neat how this relates to that other part. I don’t remember writing this. Man, this is pretty good. And I know! I’ll move that part there.

    And then it’s ready to let somebody else read it. The waiting is the hardest part.

  2. redsall says:

    Big effort! Well done. I’ve ridden the encouraging rejection horse and will now publish an e-novel. I must go back and see what your epublishing experiences have been. Any tips?

  3. carolinemitchell says:

    Congratulations Catherine on getting through it! Ah yes I know the joys of RSI after a marathon editing binge. I have a chalk board on my writing wall with a lovely decal quote above which says ‘it always seems impossible until it’s done,’ by Nelson Mandela. Having said that, I’ve moved on from the chalk board to Scrivener for Mac. It’s a lot less painful! 🙂

  4. Andy Blatchford says:

    I will look forward to reading your novel – Just ordered Self-Printed (3rd Ed.) from Amazon. Boy, don’t they make it difficult to find the latest edition. After 3 Java hits (or was it Columbian?) today and many days since I first tried to order it – success at last. Just proves that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again until you get what you desire.

  5. clara@expatpartnersurvival.com says:

    I’m so glad you’re writing a novel. I’ve found self printed so helpful for birthing my non-fiction book; now I’ll be able to read your tips on writing a novel too. And handy Harry it even sounds a bit like mine, with a “main” and then chapters from another character interspersed throughout. Mine has a lot of polishing – and probably about six characters to get rid of – though.

  6. Elle Knowles says:

    Correct you are about sticking with it and it sticks in your head! I hate to return to my story and have to re-read to understand where I’m going. Congrats on the rewrite and can’t wait to read! ~Elle

  7. Melissa Stacy says:

    Congratulations, Catherine!!! SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!!! Many fist-pumps and hot cups of coffee for you!! I love all your pictures! And I wanted to second Caroline Mitchell’s comment above — my writer friends are jumping on board with Scrivener and loving it. So just wanted to pass that along. Again: kudos on your accomplishment!! Can’t wait to read your new book!!

  8. kelly @kellyblackwell says:

    I’m still in the “get your butt in the chair” phase. You are inspiring and I am very happy for you! 🙂

  9. angelalacey67 says:

    Dear Catherine, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. I am very happy for you that you made it through to completion on your book. What a feeling! Especially if you are happy with the outcome. Congratulations.

  10. lilylucid says:

    Congrats on getting everything finished! The last novel I finished took me like 2 1/2 years just to write out the main story. To this day, I’m still fleshing out the people in it, and fixing typos and grammar errors and things like that. Hopefully reading this will give me the inspiration I need to finish the rest of my stories! 😀

  11. evelynralph says:

    I completed my novel nearly two years ago, was part way through the edit when family ill health struck. I had no time to carry on. Now my computer is defunked to a certain extent, so still waiting to complete edit. What an uphill struggle I have before me. The mind boggles. But your encouragement should eventually help.
    Evelyn

  12. Joel D Canfield says:

    Out of breath just reading all that. Whew.

    Concur with not letting unnecessary time lapse between writing sessions. Our poor grey cells can only stretch so far. Thanks for that reminder.

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