Rewrite Rewrite Rewrite

As I said in my previous post, I’m working on a novel called Schism. I’m in the rewriting process now, and I have to say, it’s a lot of fun.

When I started the novel, I wanted it to be about a punk rocker. I was a punk, so I’m an expert in the punk rock scene of the 1980’s. I left the scene probably in 1987, and to be honest I haven’t kept up on it much. Makes sense to set it in the eighties.

Then, about a third of the way through I was thinking that I made a mistake. I had lost the immediacy of my story. It’s kind of a horror/apocalypse story, and setting it in the past lost something. So, I changed it.

But I didn’t stop.

I just changed what I was doing and continued. That’s what the rewrite is for. The first draft is for getting ideas down on the page, getting it done, and you don’t need to go back. I made notes when I wanted to change things in earlier chapters, and sometimes I went into the early chapters and added in a few sentences, but the goal is to keep writing. So, I kept going.

Then I got about two-thirds through the story, and I realized that I might have made another mistake. The story was crying out for a first person perspective. It was more of a gut instinct kind of thing, but I really wanted to get inside of her head, and third person semi-omniscience can get unwieldy at times. So, I decided to change it, but not at that moment. I’d save it for the rewrite. I just kept going.

That’s kind of the point I’m getting across here. Don’t stop and rewrite part way through your project. You’ll have time for changing it later. You likely will rewrite a number of times, some large scale rewrites like I’m doing now, changing setting and perspective, and some smaller ones getting details correct or changing things based on research. I tend to do a number of small rewrites that continue on and on.

One interesting rewrite I did recently was on Playing Dice with the Cosmos. It’s a short story (available in chapbook form!) that I wrote in my second year of university. I was looking through my hard drive, and realized that while it was extremely problematic, there was the kernel of a good story in there. So twenty years later, I rewrote the entire story! I took out all of the extraneous stuff, like pushing a vegetarian agenda when the story didn’t call for it, and added in far more scenes. I kept everything to a core theme. It was interesting, because even the core theme changed slightly, as my understanding of chaos had evolved over the years. It’s a much more successful piece at this point, and I think it makes my point much more clearly as well as telling a better story.

So rewrite, and rewrite a lot, but complete your first draft first. Don’t stop the momentum. Push through.

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