The horror of the REWRITE

Nothing is more depressing as a writer when, after that moment of elation at finishing the first written draft of that 110k word manuscript, you realise that a third of it needs a serious rewrite. 

I took a risk yesterday and downloaded Scrivener. Fortunately I found it very easy to import my current draft of That which is left is lost and am really enjoying the cork board feature when I can outline my novel using index cards. Unfortunately, in doing this, I’ve had the opportunity to really examine the novel through an overview and identified some serious problems with the structure. 

Image found via Writers Unboxed, Facebook

Image found via Writers Unboxed, Facebook

This is on top of my previously identified changes of having to delete a character, bring a secondary character more into the forefront of the story and reshuffle the order of particular events to make them chronological. Having the luxury of examining the bigger picture using Scrivener, it has saved me a lot of time. Without this program I would have had to sit down and work out the outline of the novel on paper via read-throughs and then rearrange my paper content to mirror an improved structure and then try and figure out a way to introduce this to my Word document draft.

Thanks to the individual chapter structure in Scrivener this is going to be much easier. It is also immediately apparent how much I am going to have to either rewrite or write from scratch. It’s a lot. In fact, it’s so much it’s made me more than a little depressed. At least one third needs rewriting, not to mention having to tweak the remainder of the text to fit with these changes. The only thing that prevents me from crying is that Scrivener appears to be well suited to aiding me in this process. Without it, I think I would just give up all together. 

There’s that old saying, that everyone has a book in them. Equally, there is a suggestion that a percentage of people have an unfinished manuscript languishing in a drawer somewhere. Now, what about all those people who have finished writing a novel but haven’t bothered to edit it? Then, those writers in my current position, who get mid-way through some edits and only then realise the overwhelming work involved and so surrender? Not to mention those that then finish the edits, but couldn’t find an agent or publisher and don’t want to do the work involved in self-publishing. 

How many stories are out there currently untold if you take all these into account? Even I thought that the biggest challenge in the process of publishing a novel was actually *writing* it. But no, I realise now that perhaps there is a larger proportion of writers who have finished writing that novel, only to give up on it at the stage of revision.

It makes me wonder – never mind those unfinished manuscripts in drawers, what about those finished ones that require just as much attention?

I now have a huge amount of work ahead of me on a novel that I thought was okay to begin with. In reality I honestly don’t believe that my initial draft was that bad. Not publishable standard, but a decent attempt given it was my first time. However, now I’ve seen where it could be improved – how it could be made better – with some rewrites and revision I can no longer be satisfied with my original attempt. That shouldn’t take away the work that I put in, after all it took me a year to complete it, but there is a long way to go before I can ever be close to the elation I felt after completing the final words on that first draft again. 


In the interest of fairness – while I downloaded Scrivner (which is currently free for my Linux based system as it’s in beta testing) I also came across yWriter, which is a similar program designed for aiding novel writers that is completely FREE.


I also had a very astute Twitter follower point out to me the error of my tagline recently:

Tweet re tagline

As a result, I’m changing it to be more ACTIVE, as advised by TanaBevan. Thanks Tana!


8 responses to “The horror of the REWRITE

  1. Pingback: What does it take to finish writing your novel? | Cat Lumb: The Struggle to be a Writer

  2. Pingback: Reconsidering the Rewrite | The struggle to be a writer that writes

    • Thanks hon. It may be a while longer…much longer…before it’s readable! But no, giving up isn’t in my nature. 🙂

    • I would argue ‘annoying’ is a very tame way of describing it! Lol.
      Good luck with your edits, thanks for reminding me that there are others out there slogging away on their completed manuscripts!

      • Oh, no problem. I look to stall anyway I can and complaining about it is a great way to stall, lol.

        Thank you and good luck to you, too!

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