Friday, May 04, 2007

Finishing a book....then comes the rewrite

Lydia was niggling me: "New update, please!" Yes, mam!

The reason for lack of frequent new updates? Yes, I've just finished writing Billy Lang. How does one feel having finished writing a 500+ page full length children's novel? The moment I finished writing it, last Tuesday, I immediately dove into the rewrite.

Which comes to the question. How much should you rewrite? When is enough enough? Sidney Sheldon has been known to rewrite 11 times for each of his novels. (Then again, Sidney doesn't really 'write,' he dictates to his assistant and she reads it back to him, then he crosses out what he doesn't want.) The rest of us struggling artistes have no assistant and therefore have to rewrite it all by ourselves.

I find rewriting a lot easier than doing the first draft. Most of the ideas are already there. Rewriting is actually for improved sentence construction, cutting out unnecessary sentences, words and passages that have nothing to do with the story, checking consistency of plot and characters and adding in foreshadowing to enrich the plot.

Ever read a book or watched a movie where a seemingly insignificant sequence is thrown in at the beginning, which comes into importance only later in the plot? Well, a lot of that comes in the rewrite.

Are you the type who shoots off his/her first draft and saves all corrections for the rewrite, or one who meticulously checks and crosschecks every page along the way, making sure it's perfect before you proceed? (Beware, the latter has been known never to finish writing whole books!)

20 comments:

Lydia Teh said...

Finally, something new, hehe. Congrats on finishing the first draft of Billy Lang! Woohoo, 500+ pages is nothing to be scoffed at. You're superb! I wish I can write at half your speed, cukup oredi.

My first draft usually is quite teruk. If I write really fast and don't bother about anything, then I may end up using less than 20% of it. If I put a little bit more thoughts into it, then maybe 70% will make the cut.

BTW, our profile is already up at MPH online under Meet Local Authors. You should put a pix in, even if it's a cartoon or a picture of you in a mask or cap. The other authors all have pix, and yours without one looks kinda lost and lonely.

Xeus said...

Lydia, less than 1 week only what with last update...

The speed of my updates is less than desirable, I know, I know.

My first draft is usually the slowest. That's why I can never write for Nanowrimo. I can't write fast, not really. Or more honestly, I can't write well fast.

Since we are all going for the Author's photo session, I was thinking of using that photo for MPH online.

Argus Lou said...

It must feel wonderful to finish such a big children's novel, Xeus. You're right about the foreshadowing passages.

Whether or not I go back to correct stuff as I write depends on my creative mood. If I'm on a roll, I'd just go on and on. But then I've not completed a novel - that's probably a different ballgame. I'll heed your word of caution. ^_^

Putting up your masked photo would pique curiosity.

Lydia, I think Xeus is fast because she writes almost every day although only about 800 words. So it adds up after a few weeks, ya?

Gette said...

Yay on finishing Billy Lang!

I find rewriting less fun than writing the first draft. For me, the fun part about writing is discovering what is going to happen next. Little clues or foreshadowing tend to get into my first draft. Rewrites are for sentence structures, grammar, clarity and consistency. Necessary but not fun.

Kak Teh said...

wow,you are all really speedy gonzales!!! In my opinion,not that i have any experience, after the first draft,we can see more clearly, what needs rewriting adding,etc. Am now furiously helping someone to type her first draft -and I know where this person has repeated, where she doesnt answer questions that a reader like me would ask etc. and I think all that will be done during second and thrid draft. Just my two cents.

Xeus said...

Argus, thanks :) I think most work days I only write 250 words or less. It's the weekends that I can do more. But you are right, it's dogged consistency that finishes a novel.

Gette, thanks :) Rewriting is not fun at all, you're right. But necessary :( unfortunately.

Xeus said...

Kak Teh, not as speedy as you in updating blogs, certainly!

It's very nice of you to help someone type her first draft. Doesn't she have a computer?

Eric Forbes said...

You must make sure your first three chapters or 50 pages or thereabouts are perfect. Rewrite as many times as you can subject to a tight deadline. The language must be perfect, punctuations in all the right places, focus on the dialogue, cut out unnecessary words and cliched phrases and don't forget the chapter beginnings and cliffhangers. And then send these three chapters or 50 pages out. Publishing decisions are usually based on these pages.

Xeus said...

Thanks, Eric. I know - the first 3 chapters can make or break you. Will need your help to vet them.

Kak Teh said...

xeus, she is 82!! and she used to type on typewriter - asked someone to go to the shop to get ribbons - the local shopkeeper just laughed! But dont forget xeus, as much I I have so mucn to do for myself,typing her work is a learning experience for me. I n the process, I question her as a reader,in the process,I learn what not to do or what to do. I wrote abt her in my blog - "History in a suitcase" and "Shamelessly Plugging Peggy".

My blog? it has not been updated for awhile - cant sit at a pc for too long - my back is still aching. Also, I have to get a paper out for a seminar in two weeks time.

Xeus said...

Kak Teh, that is really such a sweet true life story! At 82 and writing! (Well, I guess Sidney Sheldon was around that age too).

Your poor back. Now I'm afraid to trouble you to read the first 3 chapters of my children's fantasy.

Kak Teh said...

xeus - send, send! let me read - read no problem! and yes,i need yr email address too.

Xeus said...

Kak Teh, you are so kind! My email address is at the top right corner of my blog dark.city.xeus@gmail.com . But I'm unable to find your email address at your blog. Please write me? I hope you won't strain your back further reading it. You really need a laptop :)

Tunku Halim said...

Xeus - congratulations and it's a thick one too! Well done indeed.

For me getting the 1st draft done is the hardest. You've reached the end. Now you're just gonna make things better. I normally wait for a bit of time to pass before diving into the rewrite. Otherwise you're still too close to the work.

Xeus said...

TH, heard you were coming out with another anthology. Congrats!

Tunku Halim said...

Xeus, you seem to have "insider information". I'll put up a post on it soon!

RK Boo said...

I usually write the first draft, keep it in a drawer for some time, then take it out and rewrite. Am having trouble rewriting the ending though.

Btw, do you know which publishers to send to? And how to do that? I've written a fictional novel--about 70,000 words. Wondering where to send it to.

Xeus said...

RK, send it to Eric Forbes of MPH Publishing. But make sure it's perfect or as close to perfect as possible before sending.

RK Boo said...

Thanks a lot. Do you have his email address that I can send it to? Or do I need to give him a hard copy of 3 chapters and a synopsis?

Xeus said...

He is connected to this blog via Good Books Guide. You can read what he has to say about a manuscript before submitting. You can also talk to him through his blog and ask him questions.