Rewriting takes time and patience
This post is part of my BOOK MARKETING FOR THE FAINT-HEARTED series, in which I promised to share with you my journey of self-publishing and marketing.
At the moment I’m in the process of rewriting and editing my romantic comedy manuscript, Perfect Sex. I must admit I love this process. Writers are divided into two categories – those who divide people into categories and those who don’t.
Being in the first category I’m going to stick my neck out and say that writers are divided into two camps – those who love the first draft process and dread the rewriting and those who find the initial writing painstaking and love the rewriting process.
I’m in the second category, although to be fair, they’re arbitrary, and there are many times when I find myself totally in the zone and loving the creative process. But I find most satisfaction in rewriting and editing, like a sculptor shaping, moulding, smoothing off the rough edges and polishing my work of art until it gleams. As Joyce Carol Oates says, ‘the pleasure is the rewriting.’
As a rewriter of some years experience, here are my tips:
- After your first draft, put your manuscript away for at least 4 weeks.
- No peeking.
- Get on with your next novel, or try something different if you’re jaded with novel writing. Erotic haiku, an epic poem, a silent movie script.
- Get your manuscript out again and re-read it. Groan to your long suffering partner/dog/baby, ‘How did I ever think this was any good?’
- Put it away again for another 4 weeks.
- Get it out again and rewrite. Rinse and repeat. Do as many drafts as you need to make it as polished as you can.
- Grit your teeth and seethe inwardly at anybody who asks, ‘How’s your novel coming along?’ Because you know what they’re really saying is ‘Haven’t you finished it yet?’
- Get an objective review of your manuscript. If you can afford it, a critique from a reputable professional manuscript agency is invaluable. I used Edit or Die for my humorous crime novel How Not To Commit Murder and they provided me with a comprehensive and practical critique that formed the basis of my rewriting.
- Otherwise, find an experienced writer who enjoys the genre of your manuscript and bribe, I mean, offer them a free dinner/ your undying gratitude/ a prominent position on your acknowledgements page. Or all three. Who could resist?
- On receiving your critique find a comfy chair in a quiet corner and arm yourself with a bottle of your favourite tipple. You’ll need it because your reviewer will invariably unravel your nice tidy handicraft and suggest you get rid of some of your favourite scenes/characters/phrases, add other bits, swap things around, do more research and so on..
- Don’t strike him/her off your Christmas card list, unfriend them on Facebook or put a bomb in their letter box. Put the critique aside for a few days and try not think about it.
- But you will, you won’t be able to help it. You’ll mull it over in the back of your mind and you’ll come to the realisation that your reviewer was right. Maybe not with everything, but with the parts that really matter.
- Drag yourself back to your desk and do yet another draft. Surely this must be number 342?
- Smile sweetly at anyone who asks how your novel is coming along and say, ‘Fantastic thanks. Couldn’t be better.’ Because by now you’ve learnt the art of patience and goodwill to all men, and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
- Put your manuscript away again. Just for a couple of weeks, I promise.
- Take it out again and revise your revisions.
- Type ‘The End’ with a flourish and declare, ‘If I have to read another word of this novel I’ll puke! And what’s more, I’m never writing another one!’
- Take a holiday. You deserve it. Go to the Caribbean and read trashy novels for a couple of weeks.
- When you come back, turn on your computer and begin your next novel.
Do you enjoy the rewriting process? Please share your experiences – and advice.