Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Question: Should You Rewrite Every Trunk Novel?

My friend Joe and I were talking about rewriting old trunk novels. He's in the middle of redoing several books he's already finished, and me...well, you know me. I've done several rewrites with various results.

It got me thinking. There's trunk novels I've written that I still love, despite how broken they are. Every book really does teach you something, and if I didn't love something about it, I wouldn't have written it in the first place. I look back on them fondly, but realize that no amount of revision would save those books. If I ever wanted to unearth the premises and characters, I would have to start from scratch.

But should you?

Is it really necessary to rewrite every good idea you've ever had? A certain amount of reusing old ideas is going to happen no matter what, so parts of those books will live on. But maybe at the end of the day, it's necessary to let go of an idea, a setting, a group of characters, no matter how awesome they are, and move on.

I don't think I'm going to redo every book I've ever written. Sometimes you just have to put them in a trunk and call them done. It's sort of freeing, when you let it go like that.

What do you think? Would you go back and redo every good idea you have, or just let them be training wheels?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Reasons to Rewrite

Today we're going to talk about rewriting. I'm in the middle of a rewrite, and was talking to two of my friends about rewriting, so it seems like a good subject to bring up. 

Today specifically we're going to talk about why you would want to rewrite a book. 

To be clear, when I talk about rewriting in this context, I mean rewriting the entire book from scratch. When you're revising a book and you rewrite three chapters, that's of course still rewriting, but there's a big difference between a few chapters and an entire book. The sense of self loathing, for example, is much higher.

The most common reasons (that I am aware of) to rewrite a novel is because a) you're redoing a book you've already written, but it's been a long time since you wrote said book and your skills have, hopefully, improved, or b) you're redoing a premise, and substantial parts are going to change. Parts such as a point of view character, genre of the novel, and/or voice.

There might be other reasons, but at the moment I can't think of any. Feel free to suggest reasons in the comment section. 

The important thing is to make sure you actually need to start over, and you're not just procrastinating editing your completed book. Rewriting is hard; really hard. You feel like a failure for getting it wrong the first time, no matter how many times you tell yourself this is not true. You despair, knowing you have write a book all over again. The newness is gone. All you have is the stubborn sense that you know how to make this book better, and you're going to do it, even if it means starting from square one.

Here's the secret. You're not actually starting over. Even if you've completely changed the premise, characters, and setting, you still have the experience of a full draft dedicated to explore these ideas under your belt. It makes a difference that's hard to describe. There's slightly less flailing about. 

But this is a last ditch effort. Your first job is to make all the changes needing to be made and make sure it can't be accomplished with a serious edit. This is a judgment call, of course, but most of the time no matter how broke the book feels, it's nothing a good edit won't fix.  

After a Google search, I found exactly one helpful post on rewriting by Justine Larbalestier

What do you think? Have you ever rewritten a book before? Why or why not?

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Redesign!

This isn't the original design I was going for, but I couldn't make that template do my bidding. So in the meantime, I'm using Blogger's template options and having some fun.

What do you guys think? I was thinking about something that looks really clean, but I couldn't find anything to suit my tastes in the Blogger templates.

I'm working on my website, which will eventually be connected to my blog, but until then, this is what you get. :D

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Birth of a Novel: The (Not) Birthday Edition

Last Thursday I was going to write a Birth of a Novel post, and call it the birthday edition. Because January third is my birthday, naturally.

But, life had other plans, and it's a week later. The baby and the husband were both sick, and there was one night where the baby didn't sleep at all. We're talking crying out in his sleep from ten until two when I got him up, to being awake from two until five when he passed out from exhaustion.

Then he woke up at eight in the morning.

Yes. I was miserable. The very limits of my patience were tested and exceeded. Parenting: not for the weak of heart. 

I got him to go back to sleep until eleven, and I spent the day on the couch staring at the TV, counting down to nap time. 

Couple this with being very stuck on my book, and I don't have a lot of progress to report on my word count. I did sit down yesterday, after sleeping great for the last two nights, and hammer out some brainstorming.

See, the thing is, the book has veered wildly off course. I have ideas of characters and plot threads to put into the book, but they're not there yet. Things are very different, and I am having a hard time building up to the climax when the beginning and the middle of the book don't really match up. 

I read this post by Laini Taylor today that made me feel much better. Most of my panic is because I don't know what happens next. It makes me very comfortable. The book feels like it's coming apart at the seams and I have no idea what to build towards.

I have to remember that a lot of writing comes from faith. You have to believe in yourself; in your ability to spin something out of nothing. I made everything up--all the characters, the plot events, the setting. All of it. It came from my brain.

Sometimes, you have to trust your brain to come up with stuff later. You might not have the answer right away, and that's scary. But that's okay. The answer will come.

I'm not sitting and waiting for inspiration. Yesterday's brainstorming session was very productive, so today I am going to try and re-outline the rest of the book. 

If you build it, they will come.

So remember. Trust your brain.

How about you? How's the book coming along? What about the rest of your plans?