Tag Archives: rewriting

Linear Writing for Non-Linear People

Right now, as you’re reading this, I’m sitting in a waiting room working on The Killing Type. Right now, I’m typing this to the future, but you’ll be reading the past. Okay, this is starting to sound like an episode of Vsauce.

I’ve mentioned before that when I write a first draft, I build everything from the inside out, piecing together scenes without any regard for a timeline. Most of my friends and critique partners are structured outliners, so I don’t know how they deal with my throwing caution to the wind. I’m sure they’d fall over if they saw my drafts-in-progress. Or my notebooks.

That being said, I’m trying this rewrite from a different angle: writing it straight through and replacing what I no longer need. When I finished the draft the first time, I unwisely didn’t let it sit before starting on edits. So I’ve technically never reread it. Oops. Plus, when I did revise, I went backward.
I know! I know! I’m the extreme type of pantser. I’m mad!
I’m hoping a forced linear perspective does a couple of things:
  1. Let’s me see the narrative in order. Obvious.
  2. Let’s me see what isn’t working. I’m trying to make each chapter a reaction to the events in the last. Hopefully, I can speed up the action and make it cleaner.
  3. Help me hate linear writing less, especially when it’s time to edit and revise. At the very least, I’d like to be able to process it better.

Of course, this whole process is not without its pitfalls. I’ve gotten some great feedback from my CP, and I do feel positive about this new take, but rewriting is still difficult and painful. I’ve only gotten the first four chapters redone (out of, oh, the original twenty-five-ish), and there is a slight downside.

  1. I initially cut about 15k out of the original 80k. Boom. Gone. It was liberating, but a little sad.
  2. For every 5k I add (about a chapter and half), I delete the 2k of the original, which drops the word count again. Sure, I could (and probably should) open a fresh file, and this would take away the pain, but I like seeing the new replacing the old.
  3. I realize just how much the first draft sucked. Yes, I know all first-drafts suck and that’s why we keep revising until we die, but I realize how few things actually made sense and under-developed my characters were, especially Charlotte. This is bad because Charlotte is the main character.
  4. Like everything, it makes you question your choices. I still ask Kelly if she likes where the story is going, or if I’m even good at this writing thing. I have a folder of positive affirmations that I look at when I’m down. Also, a file of glittery skulls, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m hoping to have it finished (or with one or two chapters to go) by the time I leave for Disney (and the worst sunburn of my life) at the beginning of June. Doable? Yeah. Some scenes only need a point-of-view change. There are a few that won’t be changing at all. I try to remember that this manuscript hasn’t been slated as hopeless. I just need to dust it off a bit more.

Now where’s that rock tumbler I had as a kid?

I’m starting to think I should have some sort of clever sign-off. Maybe next week.


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Tooth and Nail

Writing a novel is hard. You sit and pull words and characters from your brain and shape them into something like a story. You revise and edit and change and eventually end up with a finished draft.

Rewriting a novel is even harder. I finally finished the rewrite on the first chapter of The Killing Type.

I’ve been fighting with myself mentally for weeks. I’ve been in a state of suspended animation, not looking back but unable to move forward. I had a death to deal with, a memorial service, the swing of mourning to readjusting to mourning again, and finally everything seems to have settled down.

I spent last Saturday with Cat. I realized I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have fun. We had lunch, spent all day at the outdoor mall with her husband, his brother and tiny nephew, went a series of student plays, and then watched a movie and drank tea on her couch. I’ve spent so much of the last few weeks internalizing and shifting, that I’d neglected letting myself have fun. We talked about writing and where we were in revisions.

I felt better about where I was headed, but when I sat down to gut my novel, I couldn’t. I stared at it, I watched makeup tutorials on YouTube, I thought about the changes I wanted. I edited it, little by little. As difficult as it was to pour out those first 80,000 words, this rewrite felt like I was sinking my nails into a beast and scraping at bone to find the better story. And it sucked.

Confession: It’s terrifying. I’m afraid. Afraid that it’s just a lost cause, that the story sucks, that I suck, that it will never be good enough, that I’m wasting my time, that I’m wasting my life. What if I can’t fix it?

I’m lucky that I have an amazing group of friends who listen to my worries and support me. I don’t blame myself for being out of sorts. I don’t blame myself for recognizing the “writer’s slump.” I unchaptered everything and dissected it. It’s waiting to be rebuilt. I’m not out of it yet, but I’m still fighting, tooth and nail.

And I finished it. The new first chapter is sent to my CPs and I await their judgement. I feel good about it. It’s not perfect, and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be. I’m starting again, starting over. It’s okay that I’m afraid, it’s okay that this will be difficult. I know where I’m going and I’m determined to get there.

Now let’s cut up chapter two.

Other news: You may (or may not) have noticed that my blog has a new name! Inspired by my favorite quote from Edgar Allan Poe: “There can be no exquisite beauty without some strangeness.” I’ll be slowly revamping the blog. If you have suggestions on content you’d like to see, please leave suggestions below or feel free to message me on Twitter @ExquisitelyOdd

Unfortunately, I have not been able to make any vlogs lately due to my built-in camera refusing to play well with iMovie. Hopefully, I can fix this because I really miss making vlogs. For now, it’s just one blog a week.


Filed under Writing