I’m doing it again. I’m rewriting my novel instead of editing it. It’s just so much easier to write than it is to fix what is already there when I don’t really understand what’s wrong with it. Or, I do know what’s wrong: and it’s everything. They’re just not right – and the only way I can think to rectify it is by rewriting.
I’m restructuring the entire opening to the book. It’s going to end up longer and yet still be more direct. Rather than having three people and a phone call in a scene, I’m breaking them down into conversations between two main characters. This does mean an increase in word count, but it also means more chances for my characters to interact and an opportunity to really introduce who they are before moving on to another section. Not to mention packing each interaction with deeper meanings and subsequent conflict.
I’m also avoiding summary scenes. I’m trying to drop hints about conflicts and motivations and resisting the urge to explain wherever possible. I want a reader to continue reading if they want to discover what that throw-away comment meant I want them to invest in learning about the characters rather than giving them the luxury of being told.
On top of this, I’m discarding chapters for this edit. I already have some significant breaks in my narrative, thanks to the stories of Cecelia, James and Penelope. In addition, trying to rewrite the opening section becomes laborious if I have to think about word count restrictions and scene breaks on top of everything else. I may or may not insert them again on the next pass. I haven’t yet decided.
As I go, I’m creating a spreadsheet record of each individual scene and logging the goal, motivation, conflict and disaster of each one as well as number of pages, word count and the plot points. In the long run I’m hoping this will give me a good overview of the manuscript and be a useful reference sheet when I do a final revision. I can include all the foreshadowing elements that I need to, identify clear insertion points for thematic ties and also utilise it as a snagging system when I know there are parts that need revision in the next round.
I’m still not enjoying the editing process. In fact, it doesn’t really feel much like editing at the moment given all the rewriting I’m doing. On the plus side, I do feel that I’m making some significant leaps and bounds in creating a publishable novel. The rewriting that I’m doing feels like an improvement, like it has more purpose and drive. It will still need some polishing, but hopefully after I get through this beginning section there will be less rewriting to be done.
It’s been a struggle to keep up with the NaNoWriMo pace though, even if it has only been 1,667 seconds (28 minutes) per day. I’m constantly doubting myself, questioning the sentences I write, trying to assess if they are working for the story, rather than just inclusions of trivia. My motivation is low, but then so is my health: doctors appointments and blood tests and medications have all played their part so far this month, on top of all the regular symptoms of my M.E/CFS. So I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I’m moving forward, slowly. One step at a time. And, sometimes, that just has to be enough.