Thursday, December 8, 2022

The Work in Progress, uh, Progresses

 The rewrite is going well; I hope to finish this week. (Editor’s Note: It may be complete by the time this posts.) I made noticeable changes in several places. Some cuts, some additions, some rewording. All told it’s much better than what I started with.


It’s still not done.


While I take more care with the rewrite than I did with the rough draft, it’s still a right brain exercise. I make decisions, but putting those decisions into effect are creative choices that sometimes require writing a passage as if I had not already written it. (And some should not have been. Jesus. What was I thinking?)


That’s fine, as the prevailing sentiment and sensibility for the rewrite is Dennis Lehane’s dictum, which resides in large print to the immediate left of my writing chair:




No one cares what the rewrite looks like, because no one but me is ever going to see it. No one cares what I changed or left the same because no one will ever see the original rough draft, either. At this point, no one cares what I do or how I do it. The key is to get it done. The rate that felt comfortable to me is 2,000 words a day, broken up into two 1,000-word sessions. That moves the chains without burning me out.


I’m taking the holidays off. When the edit begins in January the mantra will something else I have in plain sight to my left, this morsel from Wes Anderson’s movie The French Express:


Try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose.


That’s when the minutiae come in. Can I say this in seven words instead of nine? Should this be one sentence or two? Do I need that comma? Does this sound like something that character would say? Is that simile good enough? Is it a reach I’d be better off without?


The rough draft is the ore; the rewrite produced the iron. The edit will refine it into steel.




Mark Bergin said...

I do care. It’s fascinating to learn what got cut or changed and why. What drove the decision, what other choices you made. Usually the only time these kinds of changes can be seen is in comparing movie versions to source books, the different medium and time constraints requiring at least cuts if not content changes. Or business pressures: I’m reminded that the cable version of Catch 22 changed the ending to leave Yossarian in a plane in the air — allowing for a sequel. I was furious

Ef Deal said...

I tend to revise as I write, so my first drafts are the result of rewrites all along. It's that second phase that stalls me, when I know something needs more, but I don't know what it needs. I really wish I had a good writing group to talk things out.

I do subscribe to the Wes Anderson maxim, though.

Dana King said...

Thanks for the comment. Do you think there would be interested - OK, would YOU beinterested - in a post that 3takes a small section of the book and how it's different in the rewrite? That can eb arranged.

Dana King said...

Thanks, Ef. Check with local libraries. it's not uncommon for them to either host writers groups - that's how I found mine years ago - of know who to contact. I don;t know what kind of organization your genre has - crime has Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and others - but they may also be a resource.

Or you could start one. You know other writers whose opinions you would trust and who may be in the same situation you're in. Go for it.