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Monday, 27 January 2014

Picking a Rewrite Speed

A little look at at my work diary for the past two weeks tells me that I've reviewed three classic films, two books and written three other blog posts. I've spent four afternoons going through a Wilkie Collins biog for every scrap of information I may ever need to know and a long evening arguing with British Periodicals to get some articles loaded up for a paper I want to write. I've created a 245 point list of terror detailing the changes I'd like to make on my thesis chapters as they stand and I spent one agonising day trying to write the appendix that refuses to be written. I've also finished the last third of a play and added nearly 20,000 words to a novel rewrite. Oh, and I did some babysitting and a Sheffield trip too. No wonder I'm shattered!

The thing about this novel rewrite is that it's one I can and should do rapidly. Effectively, it's another first draft. The characters involved in this novel have been in my head since I was 16. They've been in scripts, they've been in three different locations to date. I failed in 2011 to complete NaNoWriMo with them and then managed it in 2012 - after a location switch and a POV change. The NaNo draft was all from the POV of one character - Lauren - while my previous attempt had been from six points of view. You know what I'm doing now, right? Yep, going back to a structure where all characters get a section to themselves. Six different voices and an alteration in the organisation of the setting.

So I'm treating the rewrite as another first draft. Most of the general structure and relationships is staying the same but nearly all of the specifics are being altered. I've only referred twice to the first draft so far and that was for pieces of dialogue I didn't want to lose. Essentially, it's a different novel, albeit it with lingering and very persistent characters. If I didn't treat it like I do my first drafts (get it down, get it done, get on with something else) I'd be wasting time. The 'second draft' isn't going to be in any kind of decent state, just as the first draft wasn't. I need to get the new structure on the page, play around with the new voices, then fix it later. Just the way it has to be.

After that, there's an entirely different prospect. I've got a second draft currently standing at 14,000 words that requires concentration, precision, thought about every word. That will take much longer. It's all about knowing what different projects require. And, for me at the moment, it's all about working on them without stressing too much about what I'm going to do with them. Writing's enough right now. After all, this is the year of the thesis...right?

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