Back in 2010 I entered NaNoWriMo for the first time and wrote a 50,000 word novel in one month. Over the following year I revised it and readied it for submissions. It was a contemporary adventure story for boys. I submitted it several places and never got a single request to read past my opening 25 pages. So, I decided last fall that it was time to rethink this story. As much as I liked it, it obviously was missing something. Some higher stakes, perhaps. What if? I asked myself. Instead of my mc being a just-turned 13 year old boy, I made him an almost 15 year old girl. How would that change my plot? How would that affect the other characters in the book? I made the goal of completing this rewrite by the end of March, and here I am on March 31st proudly saying that I have done it. Yes, it still needs some proofreading and tweaking, but the major changes are made. And you know what? It actually is a much better book. It's more exciting and has a lot more oomph to it.
Now I don't suggest everyone do a major change up like this when working on rewrites. However, if something's not working with your story, ask yourself "What if?" and see if a major change is needed.
Now I'm back to my WIP to clean it up and get it ready to send to publishers. Wish me luck!
It's old-fashioned, I know, but another good trick for helping with rewrites is to write a first draft by hand. In this age of lap tops, iPads and other convenient mobile devices, sometimes we forget we can just carry a notepad and a pen around with us wherever we go. I wrote the first draft of my novel For a Speck of Gold completely in cursive on yellow notepads when I was working at an after school program back in the early 2000s. While the kids were doing their assignments, I jotted down my ideas. I have written a number of short stories this way while sitting in waiting rooms while my daughter was taking dance or swim lessons.
While this might seem like a waste of time to some - I mean, writing into the computer and saving it is so much easier - think of it as an exercise. I find that I don't write as much by hand as I do when typing, probably because my hand hurts after a while. So, when I go to copy what I've created into my computer, I do an automatic rewrite. I fill in the light paragraphs, fix the obvious mistakes, catch a lot of the repeating words. What this means is, the first draft to be on my computer is already a second draft.
Give it a try and see how it works for you.
About 12 years ago I began writing my novel Cry of the Sea. I wrote it very quickly, and I thought it was pretty cool. No one wanted to read it, though. So, I took it to the SCBWI-Midsouth conference about five years ago and had an editor-critique session about the first chapter and outline. She was very nice but told me all the problems I had with it, including that the book was way too short. I was pretty broken and pushed the book aside to work on other projects. Then, 3 years ago, SCBWI offered a novel revision workship, hosted by an author I love named Helen Hemphill. I brought my pages and my notebook and got lots of great ideas. Finally, I knew what to do! You want to know what the solution was?
I scrapped the book. Yep. Except for the core idea, I pretty much let the rest fall away and started over again. I'm proud of the outcome, and it definitely got a lot more views by editors when I started submitting. Fire and Ice Young Adult Novels picked it up last year, and it will be in print and ebook in just a couple weeks!
So, I'm starting a blog about rewriting and revising manuscirpts. I'm going to start out the next couple weeks by showing you how some of my work has changed drastically from first draft to final draft. Then I hope to begin inviting other authors to show examples of their rewrites. I hope you find this fun and educational!
D. G. Driver
Author D. G. Driver's
Write and Rewrite Blog
“There are no bad stories, just ones that haven’t found their right words yet.”
A blog mostly about the process of revision with occasional guest posts, book reviews, and posts related to my books.