Friday, February 15, 2008


I keep telling myself that rewriting shouldn't be hard. The words are there after all so all I have to do is look at them critically! I also keep wondering why this is taking me so long - dread, fear, procrastenation?????

I do know that I'm learning though. As I work through this rewrite of A Cornish House I can see things I never saw before - and the bonus is I know how to fix them now. So why is it taking me so long? I think it is too much other stuff in my life at the moment and fear. I do think I really feel I could mess this one up badly because the story has so much potential that I may let it and me down.

I also find I'm working differently now. Currently I print off twenty pages and read through for typos and repetition (to be sure to be sure) and just the general feel of the story. Once that is complete I print off again and read the work aloud. I hate doing this but what a difference it makes. Awkward sentences jump out at me and require fixing. This is very different from my past working methods. I used to do much more work on the screen and work with long pieces of the script. I think I like this method but we'll see.

What I'm not yet doing which is what I fear most is fixing the plot holes and dramtically changing the story. I haven't really dealt with ACH is months so I need to reaquaint myself with my character and remind myself what i wanted to acheive. It's hard sometimes to realize that I have written 94,000 words and may not have aceived what I wanted to or may have to change the whole thing. So after this rewrite I will have 94,000 well written words that don't tell the story I want them too! Help!

This week there have been some great things on blogs. Directly related to what I have been working with this week is here here on Michelle Styles blog. She talks about how it's fine to tell and not show in your first draft and then how to convert it in your second. I particularlly love RUE (Resisit the Urge to Explain). I think I may need that branded on my forehead.

As a follows on from C.S. Harris's post here here which talks about how a writer writes about the body's reactions to danger ( love her words Cardiopulmonary Reality) Steve Malley goes through the way a body reacts to danger - here. It's a great reference.

Finally there is a fantastic debate/discussion on two blogs that is well worth a read on two accounts - one it's content on the relative merits of catagory romance which begins from the male pov as he reviews one he's been challenged to read here and continues on the author's (Julie Cohen) blog here and two as it shows how how brilliantly the blogging world can work for enlightening and thoughtful discussion.


Julie Cohen said...

That's the opposite of the way I would go about it--I'd do the structural stuff first and then polish the prose, because, as you say, you may have to get rid of some of those perfectly-chosen words eventually. And it is easier to get rid of words that you haven't worked and reworked and made yourself fall in love with.

I understand, though, why you're doing it this way, if you're feeling scared of massive structural revisions. Twenty pages at a time, making micro-changes, does help you feel in control. I bet you'll find, once you're done with the whole book, that it's come alive in your head in a way that will help with the big stuff.

I must admit you are making me feel ashamed--I rarely read my own work aloud unless I suspect it's particularly clunky, and I'm sure I would benefit from it.

I sympathise with your dread. I feel it often!

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Julie. I suspect that your first draft prose is a whole hell of a lot better than mine and therefore easier to work with. I think if I don't deal with the clunks first that I may not be able to see the plot problems through the typos.

My big fear on this story is bringing a balance. As the story stands right now it is Serena's, the 15 year old - which is good, but I don't want it to be just hers. In my head and not yet on paper I am trying to work through how I can make Madde's story the lead. I have to accept this may not be possible - or at least I haven't seen the way yet!

Again, I should imagine having read your books that you have little need to read aloud - your prose flows :-) Speaking of which One Night Stand is on order with Amazon and will come out to Dubai with sil :-)Can't wait.

Leatherdykeuk said...

I hate my own voice, but reading the prose aloud is exactly what I have to do in the edit stage.

CC Devine said...

I'm working on the plot development of my wip at the moment and it is daunting but I feel that I can't start polishing it until I'm happy that the story unfolds at the right pace, that I've weaved all the various bits and pieces into the relevant chapters. Some days I'm all fired up and excited about changing it and then others I'm overwhelmed by how much there still is to do.

I haven't tried reading any of my writing out loud but intend to do so for precisely the same reason you have done.

Keep it up!


liz fenwick said...

Rachel, I'm so pleased someone else hates their own voice :-)

CC, well done for tackling plot first! Brave woman and smart too. Reading aloud is hard but it throws up so much stuff!

cs harris said...

You might find it helpful to look at Alice Hoffman's Here on Earth, which also has a strong daughter story in what is essentially the mother's story. I thought of your discussions of your Serena/Maddie balance when I read it. You may not find she strikes the balance you want, but thinking about what she does might give you some ideas. (I love Hoffman, by the way, but not this book--she goes against a common fantasy, which is unsettling).

liz fenwick said...

CS, I'll order this book. It will be useful to see how someone else handles it. I think I may have figured one way to up the emptional stakes for Madde while walking this morning - now I need to figure out how to work that in!