Saturday, August 18, 2012

Rewriting

I just started the most majorly intense rewrite I've ever done. I know this isn't saying much, considering I've only rewritten one novel before this, but still.

It's daunting.

My first three chapters were really confusing because my main character is unidentified. So, I thought it would be easier to switch to first person narrative. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. Later on, there's a lot of personal introspection and it would all be much more powerful if we were inside the character's head the whole time.

Then I realized the main character is unconscious for the opening scene.

I went over it, many, many times, trying to find a different way to open things up. But there really is no better way. She is found on the street, unconscious, naked and alone, and is delivered to the people who can help her most.

I don't want to open a novel with the main character waking up, unaware of where, when or who she is. That would be confusing. To say the least (have you read the Amber Chronicles? yeah...). So this meant I needed to leave the opening scene (about four pages) in third person, and turn it into a prologue.

I went to twitter, discussed it with several people, all of whom thought it sounded like a legit reason for a prologue to exist, as long as it's handled properly. So then I got all excited, "I just need to turn it into a prologue!!!"

Then I remembered that the whole book is in third person, and I need to rewrite the entire book, not the first four pages. The first four pages stay as-is, the other 40,000 words of a rough draft outline need to be changed.

Doh.

I'm about six paragraphs in and I'm already annoyed.

17 comments:

  1. I did this. The first draft was in third person.


    In the beginning, I wanted it in first person. Then one of my best friends said (totally offhand), "UGH, I can't STAND novels in first person." So I panicked. I wrote that first draft in third person (it felt totally forced) and when it ended i felt like I'd been straining the whole time to get it down in third. So-- total rewrite. But it's SO much better.

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  2. (also, you don't always have to listen to your friends.)

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  3. Yes. I did third person because it seemed like it was what I was "supposed" to do. I've done one chapter in first person, and I've already discovered so much more about the main character's personality, and even the secondary character she is interacting with has come alive so much more already. I think this is going to make the whole book so much better overall.

    Even if some people hate it :)

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  4. Also: I love your first person narration. You use it right. You get inside their heads, not just giving a laundry list of "I did this and then I did this and then I did this."

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  5. I prefer third person overall, but it definitely depends on the story, and the writer. I think maybe it is just harder to do first person well, so -- even among traditionally published books -- there are a lot of examples where it's just not that great and really doesn't add anything. But, I've never successfully completed a novel, so this is purely coming from a reader perspective.

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  6. I've loved books written in 3rd and 1st. I've loved books with a single POV, and books that switch POV regularly, and some that switch POV CONSTANTLY. I just really love a well-crafted, plot-driven story with complex and interesting characters, no matter what package it comes it :)

    And you're right: there are a lot of examples of poorly done 1st person, and it can be dicey to get it right. That's part of why I tried 3rd at first, but I just kept getting stuck. I couldn't figure out where to go, and I had such a hard time getting to know the characters. I switched to 1st person, and it's been a lot easier. I'm only a few hours in, and while it's definitely annoying, it's also intensely liberating. I feel like this story is writing itself now.

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  7. I'm sorry you're struggling, but I seriously cannot wait to read your book!!!! I'll be praying for divine epiphanies supernatural creativity for ya!!! :)

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  8. i totally would have told you to change your opening to a prologue, too. I've changed books to first person, third person, past to present... you name it, I've changed it. That's MUCH easier than taking out a thread. Adding in a new story thread isn't so bad, but taking one out??? I swear it takes five reads to get rid of that. And I've totally reorganized my paranormal about 5 times, so there's that... good luck with it! Actually. Enjoy the new perspective on a story you loved enough to write in the first place.

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  9. Thanks, Dara! It was kind of annoying at first, but oddly liberating after I got going. Being able to see the world through the main character's eyes (instead of my limited-outsider's perspective) opened up a ton of new stuff. I now know a WHOLE LOT more about all my characters, and the story is flowing a lot better. I've been slopping through this for more than a year, and I finally feel like I will be able to finish it. Probably in the next couple months!

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  10. I DO love this story!!! Thanks for the reminder :)

    And that makes me feel better that another writer agrees that it should be a prologue :)

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  11. I've changed tenses, genres, eliminated prologues. The whole thing. You have my sympathy!

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  12. Editing is seriously the most daunting part of writing a novel for me. I hate going back and rereading. That's a terrible thing for a writer to say. Whoops.

    Also, if you ever need someone to read drafts or anything, I'm good for it! I'm pretty good at communicating things and stuff about books. Clearly. ;)

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  13. I will likely take you up on that. I have a couple of CPs, but you can never have too many people critiquing your work, especially people you would trust. I'm totally willing to return the favor, or if you just need somebody to pull you through the rough patches.

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  14. Thanks! It's actually coming along nicely- the change was a good idea, and as annoying as the mechanics are, the outcome is going to be so, so, so much better.

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  15. Don't even get me started with rewrites..... Evil evil evil!!!! But, they are sometimes exactly what a book needs. I did that with my first book and it proved to make the book a thousand times better. Ok, Gina, keep going! You can do this. :)

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  16. Thank you :)

    Now that I'm really getting into the rewrite, it is the best decision I've ever made. I mean... in regards to my writing, anyway. :) The characters are ALL so much more clear now that I am seeing them through the MC's eyes.

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