I had a question arise in one of the blog posts that I felt needed more than a simple response. A reader was curious as to how I went about rewriting the first Dream Wreakers/Weavers book. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where to start.
I began by reading the book that was published. I stopped after about three chapters, because there were already so many things I wanted to fix — and now. From there, I dug up my old computer files. I found three important versions. One was the first draft of the manuscript. Two others were post-edit rounds. (I never overwrite versions, for exactly this reason. I don’t throw a word away. Even cuts go into their own file.) So I knew I already had words, scenes, and ideas that I’d felt had worked before.
I then started going through chapters and editing the latest version. I rewrote sentences that didn’t read well, I added description, and I put in more character nuances. I’d run comparison checks to prior versions to see if there was anything else that could add to the story. I didn’t want to include things just for the sake of adding words. I was looking for a well-rounded story.
That also meant that certain things needed to be cut.
I hadn’t read this book for a very long time, so it was new to me again. I was able to read like a reader does during that first pass through. Anything that was jarring or threw me out of the story was edited or cut.
Eventually, I got through all the chapters this way. Then it was time to read the story in its entirety. Once again, there were things that needed to be tweaked. Time had passed, so cultural references needed to be updated. I also noticed some plot holes that needed to be filled. There is one major scene that I added near the end of the book. I can’t believe it wasn’t in there in the first place. Duh.
When all was said and done, the bones of the story were the same. The words used to tell it are not. I added back 8,000 words, but they’re not necessarily the same words that were cut.
By this time, I was fully back into the story, and it was getting difficult to see the forest for the trees again. There comes a point where writers can’t distinguish what is in their heads and what has made it onto paper. That’s when it was time to step away from the project and get new eyes on it. For me, that meant it was time to go to the editor. It’s with her now, and I’m anxiously awaiting her input. Once I receive it, I’ll go back through the story again, as seen through her eyes.
I’m hoping the process for rewriting Book 2 will be easier, but I’m knocking on wood even as I type that. We’ll just have to see how it stands the test of time.