Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Soci of Metro: How Not To Rewrite A Novel

I've been thinking a lot about how to tackle the rewriting process of my novel, Soci of Metro, now that the second version of the first draft is complete. Drafting this second version involved me writing over 20,000 words of new content, while leaving the vast majority of the novel untouched. However, this wasn't the first thing I did after finishing the first draft and reading it over, because the first thing I did was the stupidest thing I could do.

I started line editing.

I wasn't actually as elated to have my first draft complete as I had expected. It clocked in at a mere 40,000 words, contained huge plot holes, and was generally a dry read. For whatever reason, I felt that the only way to fix Soci of Metro was to take the nuclear option and go through every single page with a red pen, rewriting, restructuring and line editing all at the same time.

The result was three hours of needlessly exhausting work and only two edited pages to show for it. And those edited pages were a mess, as shown below.

Despite exclusively writing on paper for first drafts, I much prefer the computer for rewrites. The first time I rewrote on a hard copy with a red pen was for a story titled "Agent Orange vs. The Martians". While scribbling over the page was easy enough, actually making those changes on screen was tedious and overly complicated. And that was just rewriting. So why I decided to combine rewriting and editing in one pass over an entire 40,000 word story is beyond me – but it certainly wasn't a good idea.

So what's my plan now? Well, I spent an entire day transcribing all the margin-side notes I'd scribbled over the hard copy of the 65,000 word draft into a notebook. These notes concern continuity and plot issues only. No editing allowed!

I currently have seven and a half pages of these notes, with 147 individual issues that need to be resolved. After that I need to brainstorm names for locations and secondary characters that still  have place holder names, such as [NAME]. Then I'll be ready for the big, top-to-bottom rewrite.

Oh, and [NAME]'s a nice guy – don't judge him.


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