I just wrote a blog post for my website about how I improved as a writer in 2011, but it might be helpful to also write a post about how I can improve on what I did wrong in 2011. The good news is that even when we do things wrong in writing, we’re still learning and growing. The difference in doing things the right way is that we learn and grow faster. I’d like to make 2012 a better year than the last by doing my best to do things the right way.
I could easily say that I didn’t write enough, but couldn’t we all? One area of my efforts that took the most time away from writing, and which could be improved in 2012 is how I novel edit.
Here’s my problem: I’ve written two novel first drafts, and both ended up being dumped. The first novel has been trunked and the second was just rewritten. I like the rewrite, but I don’t want to do that again.
This most recent novel needed a rewrite of the first chapter, which led to the next three chapters, and then kept going as I fixed piece after piece that either didn’t fit or needed improved until I kept only 800 words from a 115k draft. I did cut it to 73k, and don’t expect to have so much fat with this draft, but I want to see if there is a way to edit that doesn’t lead to a rewrite.
I took Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel to workshop my first novel, but after a year of note taking, notecard making, and scene breakdowns, I decided my work was best spent revising my second novel. In order to take less time than a year, I broke down her program from reading the novel for each of the 12 steps of observations to one pass noting plot, character, science, and politics/religion. This took me two months and my notes totaled over 50k words.
I had a good idea of plot, character, etc, but once I started writing, I couldn’t bring it back on track.
One train of thought is that I have learned how to write a better story, and that is why it needed rewritten.
Another train of thought is that I didn’t have the right preparation in note taking so that before I started writing, I knew what to write and where to take it in order to fit it back in the mold.
I suppose it could be both. I’m going to start the editing process next Monday. Any suggestions for how to proceed so that I avoid a rewrite?