A Progress Report

Rewriting is progressing at a slow rate, however believe (so far) that it’s making solid improvements. Whether this means I only need to edit three more drafts instead of eight more is yet to be known. At the moment I’m up to chapter four, and thoroughly planning out all the structural changes that should elevate the story into something better.

Yes, one of my alpha readers will see this and believe it’s not necessary, but this is the one I want to be everything it could be.

The process itself is simple.

A while back, I went through the first draft twice. The first was just a read-through. Second, I took notes. The notes were focused more on the way the story was told, mostly looking at the sequence of events with an idea of what the pace felt like, and looking at the roles each character played. I had a lot of ideas on when things should change. Case-in-point, with my protagonist, I felt she was mostly free of repercussions for mistakes she made, as though she had a safety net under her that kept her in the story for the sake of convenience.

I had an idea that instead of the inciting incident in her story propelling her into something great, she should have a moment of turmoil where it seems that things are dire. In the first draft, it’s too convenient – she uncovers a fact her employers don’t want spread, so they reward her from the outset.

The thing is, I love this character. She’s not where she is because she was handed an easy road, but because she was tenacious and dedicated. I want her to be given crumbs, and for her to dig in and be determined that not only does she deserve a meal, but that she deserves to be at that table more than anyone there.

Another change, while she’s still flawed, I’d say her character shows real competency from the outset now. It’s always been implied, but she was never meant to be careless (as it might appear in the initial stages of the first draft).

I think it’s a facet of redrafting – the rocky characterisation you begin with is not the same as who we have at the end. The character still grows, but redrafting provides the nuance in the early stages of raw archetypal characters that haven’t yet been tested.

Ah, but for the actual rewrite process? I gather my notes and my first draft. I read through the chapter I’m working on, read through the notes, and begin. I tend to write my first drafts in longhand, and the rewrite stage is no different. I continue this over whatever the required days are, rephrasing things in some cases, rewriting entirely in others, and occasionally keeping things the same. Once a chapter is done, I type it all at home, and ready myself for the next chapter.

On the off-chance that the words are being stubborn about coming out, I switch to another piece of writing where the words might flow more freely, or chat to an alpha/beta reader about how it’s going, as that often psyches me back into rewrite mode.

I still have a while to go, but as I go on, the structural changes should balance out, and it will go quicker.

Well, I hope it will.

2 thoughts on “A Progress Report

  1. This sounds like a very technical process. I don’t think I’ve ever done this level of structural editing. But the more I write, the more I consider plot elements and things like inciting incidents so this level of editing may become necessary. Do you enjoy the process? (I don’t)

    1. It’s something I’ve always looked out, because way back before I was able to get any writing done consistently, I would plan… lots. It’s mostly a case of looking at the progression of each of the story threads, and seeing when they lack momentum, and identifying when they interact with each other (which should equate to a rise, possibly direction change).

      I try to identify the areas where the story is just running through the mundane, and when it’s elevated. It’s especially important to me that the characters are active, and doing things that affect their own lives and those around them, regardless of whether it is a positive or negative effect.

      It’s still a bit early to say how I feel about the process, but like writing a first draft, the first days absolutely suck, but now that I’m on chapter four, it’s starting to go a bit easier. This is also a chapter where it’s just scene rewrites, without changing much of what happens, so that could also be a factor in it being a friendlier ride.

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