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The scary part

In 2005 I wrote a book. I thought that was the scary part. I was so wrong. Writing an entire novel was terrifying, sure. But was in no way as frightening as letting someone else read it!

scary part

Then last year, 14 years later, I picked that novel up again and was shocked. It was messy, large sections had no place in the story. And some of the writing was abysmal.

I’ve not been completely happy with it for a while and decided to rewrite it completely. I tackled most of it during November, as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge that I’ve done for a number of years. When I reached the final chapter, I stalled.

So much had been changed, and I was more focussed on character motivation, and what drove them. The end needed to remain the same, or mostly the same, but I couldn’t get past that block. So I set it aside again. So many distractions to occupy my writing time, but Lily and Kate were there, at the back of my mind.

Half-term came, another couple of months on, with time at home and a week off work. I had space and time to work on it, so I made myself sit and finish the rewrite! I must have gone through the document 4 or 5 times, and the narrative is now 20k words shorter than it was. But I am happier with it, I think.

So, the really, truly, scary part? Now it’s done, I need fresh eyes on it. So, the unpolished document is now out with a trusted few friends who will read it and, I hope, give me some honest feedback.

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Rewrites are evil

For NaNo2019 I decided to be a rebel. I’ve not been completely happy with the Portal series for a long time, and NaNo gave me the push to start work. Can I say, rewrites are evil.

The best way to rewrite a piece, is to literally start with a fresh document and write the story again. So, that’s what I did. In proper NaNo tradition, I opened a blank document on the first of November and started writing. I knew the characters, the story, this should be easy, right? I even had a new cover, that needs changing too.

rewrites are evil

But no, it was hard, really, really, hard. I came across poor writing, did I really think that was good? There were whole sections of filler, pointless action that gave nothing to the plot or characters. I deleted more than I wrote. Characters no longer exist, characters changed gender, appearance. Relationships morphed into something different. Plot development scenes moved in the timeline. Place names needed to be changed when I realised my fictional town actually exists. Sorry, Wingate. With each change, tiny or huge, came an avalanche of other changes.

The sheer volume of characters proved impossible to balance, so several got culled. Some were simply superfluous. Other characters from later in the story would have been present, so they got an earlier introduction. More had to be given more depth, more identity.

It’s like writing the first book from scratch, again, with someone looking over your shoulder and telling you it’s wrong. The cascade of changes ripples through the narrative, washing away large sections, changing the course of the story.

Rewrites are evil, but necessary. I think I have a better book. It’s shorter, by about 20,000 words. In a couple of days it’ll be ready to send out to the first readers, trusted friends who will give an honest opinion.

I’m half expecting, “you changed it, I don’t like it.” But we will see. With luck, the new edition could be ready for release later this year. Then those snowball changes mean the other books will need to be rewritten too. Wish me luck.

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