So, I had an epic blog post planned for today, one in which I was going to discuss my on-going rewrite of a book that was “done” a year ago. Then my daughter fell on her face (literally) while we were walking our dogs last night and I ended up spending two hours at the ER, then another at Denny’s because she wanted late night pancakes, sausage, and ice cream. Who am I to deny?
Anywho… I actually AM starting a rewrite. And good news–it’s getting easier. Know why? Because I’ve finally figured out the trick to a successful rewrite. Ready for it?
You must first be willing to let go of what the story used to be.
All my past struggles with rewriting stem down to one crucial mistake: I wasn’t rewriting. I was shifting, revising, tweaking, patching, replacing–anything and everything I could do to add new material while still hanging on to the essence of what the story was. And it wasn’t working.
So, I’ve let go of the original story. In fact, I’m treating it as if it’s not even mine. I’m viewing it as subjectively as possible. Those words I spent all last summer slaving over? They’re simply raw material I’ve stumbled upon and hope to improve. Sure, I’ll pick up the few scenes that happen to work and fit them back in, and I’ll flesh out characters who are worthy, and maybe steal back some of the dialogue that’s particularly witty, but other than that, I’m REWRITING. Completely. And that’s good, because I’ve spent months mulling over ways to make this story what it needs to be, and I think I’ve finally got a handle on it. This is exciting!
Because I’ve been incredibly overwhelmed by this undertaking, and because I’m an incredibly visual person, I’ve started with a crude, simplistic plot map:
That’s poster board and Sharpie, and those star Post-It notes are the major plot points. I’ve got smaller, color-coded ones that I plan to start working on tonight, Post-Its that will stand in for subplots, character notes and setting descriptors. Hopefully my little chart will serve as a jumping off point and make this rewrite more manageable and–God willing–more fun.
Have you ever attempted a major rewrite? Any tips or tricks to share?