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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Rewriting: An Artform Unto Itself

Over the last month and a half, I've been rewriting Crossblade. I loved the book, but for reasons listed here, I've had to scrap it and try again.

During this process, I've learned a thing or two, and I would like to discuss them here for you, in the hopes that you may glean something from it. Here goes.

First is that rewriting, to me, is more difficult than writing. Why? Because I find myself wanting to use the original content A LOT. Everytime I come to a section of the book that I am reusing in the new version, I find myself wanting to simply CTRL+C that sucker and paste it into the new document without doing any real work. The issue there is that I'm not actually doing anything new then, merely filling up the page without actual work on my part. I've had to delete the old version or at least move it to another drive to get rid of the temptation (good tip for people scared of rewriting). When you're faced with nothing but a blank screen and nothing ot pull from, your brain has the freedom to start over.

The new parts are a completely different story (pun intended). Since the completion of the Crossblade's first version, I got the idea to add a new character - a separate character that had not even been mentioned nor introduced. However, due to the limitations of the story (and subsequently its sequel) introducing that character would have been next to impossible. So I couldn't.

With the rewrite, I was not only allowed to add the character, she is now a large portion of book, adding yet another layer of depth to the story.

Something else I faced when going into this was the issue mentioned above about killing my darling. Part of me didn't (and still doesn't) want to rewrite it because I've already been through this story once before, so it seems like a waste of time. But when I stop to take a look at the quality of the characters and the depth of the story, I find that I am definitely more proud of the story itself. When I finsihed the first, I wasn't happy about it. It felt... incomplete. With the rewrite, I don't feel that way. I can see the progress and the improvement.

On the plus side, I will say this: Rewriting challenges you to really get to know your characters, as well as getting to know new characters. There are plenty of characters I had not introduced in the first book, that I got to know really well in the rewrite and really add to the story.

Overall, I have to say that rewriting is challenging. Anyone thinking of rewriting one of their works, I would say this: Don't go in expecting to rewrite it in half the time, like I did. If you rewrite every section like I'm doing, you're basically writing the book again, which obvisouly, take time.

The author David Eddings says that he will rewrite, then rewrite again if necessary. I'll admit, I was scared to do it at first, but now I'm glad that I did.

What are your thoughts about rewriting?


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