Thursday, November 17, 2022


 I began the second draft of the new Nick Forte novel last week after taking time off to let things ferment. As expected, the first day was a bit of a haul, what with getting back into the rhythm of writing and refreshing my memory. I still got 1,000 words in, and they seem like pretty good words. At least they’re all in the dictionary.


My “second drafts” are no longer edits; they’re re-writes. I split the screen, place the first draft on top and retype everything into a window at the bottom. Some passages transfer verbatim. Some change dramatically. Some get left out altogether, while entire new passages are added. This is the third book I’ve done this way and I like how it’s working out.


A few things jumped out at me in the early stages:


·       Forte’s world has changed dramatically since Bad Samaritan. I needed to get this information out right away, so I used a story originally written for another character to show how things were with Nick. I was happy with it – even read an abridged version for Noir at the Voir in July – but realized as I finished the expanded rewrite that it's not right for this book, as its open-ended conclusion leads into a story other than the one I’m working on now. The good news is

o   I caught it early.

o   I now have the foundation of another good story in mind.

·       I’m doing much better with the PI voice than I did the first time. The rough draft wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t as rich as I like Forte’s voice. My edits typically cut words to make the book tighter. In a rewrite I’m more willing to add bits here and there to make Forte’s voice distinct from what I established for Penns River.

·       Rewriting instead of editing also frees me to add small bits that better set up what’s coming. I work from an outline and while I know what’s going to happen later, I don’t know how it’s going to happen. For the rewrite I do.


Rewrites are the most relaxing part of my writing process. First drafts are heavy lifting. Editing and polishing are not as tough, but there’s pressure to get as much right as possible so the process doesn’t drag on. Beginning the rewrite, I have the whole story and I know a good solid edit is on the way, so I can indulge myself. The plan is for there to be one edit after the rewrite, then let the book sit for several weeks before launching into my polishing process, after which I’ll get to type “THE END” at the bottom and move onto the next project.

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