Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How (Not) to Prepare for a Rewrite

There's a bunch of writers I know right now (including myself) that are facing rewrites. It's a veritable epidemic, one that I am not sure we've prepared for properly (it figures I have my zombie gear all ready to go, but no Hazmat suits for The Rewritocalypse).

So I thought I would compose a list of things not to do to while rewriting most or all of your book. You can thank me with praise and chocolate.

1. Decide that the reason why you need to rewrite this book in the first place is because malicious gnomes are hiding in your office and tear it apart looking for them.

2. Blame your family/friends/pets/random animals outside for the state of your manuscript and throw things at them. 

3. Decide you suck as a writer and just give up. 

4. Decide to let your hamstar rewrite the book for you, using a complex code of hamster wheel rotations, amount of licks at the water bottle, and hamster pellets dropped per day. You're not Dan Brown, after all.

5. Bury your book and all traces of it in the backyard at night next to those bodies that totally aren't there. Hope that the fertilizer makes your words suck less.

6. Watch hours and hours of TV, to "exercise your mind".

7. Surf the Internet constantly, in search of better locations for your plot.

8. Decide now is the time to turn your historical romance into a space western with pirates. And a sidekick monkey. And a cute monkey tambourine.

9.  Spiral into a manic depression and eat nothing but cheetos dipped in nutella, convinced you're never going to finish this stupid book. 

10. Take up Extreme Wrestling in order to wrestle out your plot demons.

11. Dig up the book you buried in the backyard under the cover of night to check and see if the pages have rewritten themselves. Nope. Bury the book again.

12. Decide that rewrite means "re-right" as in, you're right again, and this book is perfect the way it is. Agents and editors simply LOVE half finished novels with missing characters and a plot that goes nowhere. It's the new vampire.

13. Decide you need to move to a foreign country in order to really connect with your inner writer, but the funds required means you have to sell your soul and all the books you're ever going to write to an evil wish genie. 

14. Regret trusting the evil wish genie, even though "evil" was in his name and you probably should have known better, since now you're on a teeny tropical island with only coconut juice and sand to write with.

15. Experiment with brain surgery and electroshock as a way of getting the creative juices to flow. 

16. Barter away malicious plot gnomes to the evil wish genie for your soul and book ideas, and return home. 

17. Dig up novel in your backyard, still under the cover of night, to check the fermentation process. No best-selling Pulitzer prize winning masterpiece yet. Best let it compost a little more.

18. There is no number 18, just like there's no rewrite. It's all in your head.

19. Same goes for 19, only twice.

20. Decide to just sit at your desk and just rewrite the darned thing, one word at a time. Give yourself the time you need to make this book the special snowflake you know it can be.

Okay, so maybe there's something to number 20. But then again, some people are still holding out for number 17.

By all means, toss your suggestions into the comments section. If I get enough suggestions from you peeps, I'll do a post dedicated to your helpful hints of how (not) to prepare for a rewrite.


  1. I like hamstar. It sounds like a Dreamworks animated feature. "Hamstar! Guardian of the Universe!" Picture a hamster with a Buck Rogers helmet and a laser pistol standing in an action pose with space as the backdrop, his hamster feet standing on two moons. Have some laser music and women singing the Hamstar theme!


  2. 21. Um... Come up with 20 ways not to do it instead of actually working on your rewrite?

    Go back to work. Go on.


  3. 22. Decide that experimental is in and choose the order of your chapters through a darts contest with your significant other. After all, if you can just get the order right, maybe you won't need to rewrite...

  4. okay, I just had to say that my security word just now was NOVEL. How awesome is that. I take it as a good omen.

  5. But - hamster writing is how I do ALL my writing!

  6. Joe: Someone needs to make that movie STAT. I would see it opening night.

    Lena: Oh Lena...wonderful, practical Lena. That does sound like a good idea, doesn't it?

    Rena: (same name except one letter!) I like your choice. I really do. Experimental is the new sparkle-pire. And NOVEL being your security word is a great omen for us all.

    Linda: Okay, you can use the Hamstar Method for writing. But that's only because you're brilliant. Me, I couldn't hack it.