Posts Tagged ‘rewrite’

In my last update on Rose, I mentioned that I was probably going to do a whole lot of revisions and possibly a ton of rewriting, owing to the fact that the flashbacks were deemed unnecessary to the story and I had to throw them out or modify them. Well, I am rewriting a good chunk of the novel. It’s not what I’d hoped for, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. And while I’m still trying to figure out the final third of the novel, I have figured out the second third for the most part, as well as other things that I plan to include in the story. And one of those things I plan to use is something I call mini-anecdotes.*

Mini-anecdotes are something I’ve noticed a lot in fiction, particularly fiction aimed for adults. They’re not like flashbacks or mini-flashbacks, but they’re related. A mini-anecdote is when a character briefly thinks of a past experience, usually something that can be associated with the current moment in the story. It’s not a flashback, as it’s not going into the character’s past in order to show them something. It’s more like a quick summary of a flashback. A good example would be in The Shining (which I’m rereading now), when Jack is doing handyman work around the hotel’s playground and park, and thinks back to the park he went to with his dad growing up. This not only gives us a bit more on Jack’s past and who he is as a person, but also gives us a brief illustration about his relationship with his dad, which we learn further about in the novel.

Other great examples of mini-anecdotes can be found throughout the Harry Potter books. In the first book, we learn how Harry’s life has been strange since he was small: ending up on the school roof, his hair growing back overnight, a sweater shrinking as his aunt is trying to force it on him. This isn’t a full flashback, but it gives us a very good idea of what Harry’s life has been like up until Dudley’s eleventh birthday, as well as what he’s like based on his reactions to the strange things around him. And in the third book, we get a brief glimpse of Harry’s relationship with his Aunt Marge, how she also mistreats him and spoils Dudley, and once let her dog chase Harry up a tree while laughing at his misfortune. It’s an illustrative moment on how awful Marge is and gives us an idea of what we can expect from her during her appearance in the story.

Now, I’ve only just started identifying mini-anecdotes in fiction, so I’m not an expert at using them yet. Just as you can”t really be a great writer even if you’ve read hundreds of novels, you can’t immediately use mini-anecdotes even if you’ve seen them in hundreds of books. However, I think I’ve identified a few things that might make using them in Rose a bit easier:

  • They’re brief. Seems rather self-explanatory, but it needs to be stated. Mini-anecdotes are usually only a couple of sentences or paragraphs at most. The longest may be only two pages at most, but they don’t go on for several pages. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a flashback, and as I stated in a previous post, flashbacks can be difficult to use effectively.
  • Little dialogue or details. Mini-anecdotes tend to be very bare bones. They may have a few lines of dialogue, but no long speeches. And certainly not enough detail like the shape of a building or all the thoughts going through a character’s head. It’s more summary, telling vs. showing, than anything else. Going into anything more would be going into flashback, most likely. And as I said, those have strings attached.
  • They’re connected to the present. Like Harry’s early experiences with magic or his aunt, these mini-anecdotes have to connect to the story’s present, either to illustrate a point, give us further insight into a character, or just to help us connect to them more. Having one for the sake of having one will do you no favors. After all, you wouldn’t want to have a romantic scene that suddenly goes into a character’s dislike of geese, do you?

While these won’t help a writer (let alone me) use mini-anecdotes well, they can be a starting point for their use. And if we as writers can learn to use them well, then we can use them to make our stories better and more memorable to readers. And in the end, isn’t that part of the reason we write in the first place?

Do you use mini-anecdotes in your stories? What tips do you have for writing them?

*At least that’s what I call them. I don’t know if there’s a technical term for them. If there is, please let me know in the comments below.

Advertisements

As many of you know, I have a novel I wrote in college called Laura Horn, and that it’s about time I edited it. At the same time, I wasn’t sure if I should simply go over the first draft and edit where necessary, or do a complete do-over and rewrite the novel from scratch.

If you don’t know what Laura Horn is about, it follows a teenage girl with a dark past who comes across secrets that threaten the nation. Think White House Down or Olympus Has Fallen, only instead of Channing Tatum or Gerard Butler coming to save the day, it’s all on a very troubled teenage girl and her friends. Yeah, I wrote a novel like that. And it’s not comedy, YA, romance or anything like that. It’s a straight up action thriller, complete with one or two psychopaths and a bunch of corrupt agents and elected officials.

Also, I’ve limited the amount of gun violence and explosions in the book, because God forbid this thing should resemble a Michael Bay or Quentin Tarantino movie.

Back to the main point, though. In between drafts of the story, I began to worry that LH might need a rewrite. I liked the characters, I liked the story, I just worried that the way the story was being told was a little too unbelievable and that there might be a better way to tell it. At the same time though, I wondered if maybe the story I had already told was still good enough, it just needed a touch up here and there.

So after editing Video Rage, and writing and editing several short stories and novelettes, I decided to take a look at the first couple chapters of LH, do some edits, and then make a decision on whether I just need to do some simple editing, or maybe make a rewrite of LH my NaNoWriMo project.

Well, as of today I’ve gone through six chapters, combined three into one big chapter, and come to a decision. The first draft is somewhat sloppy, and there is a lot to work on, but that’s pretty typical of a first draft. It’s in the subsequent drafts you actually make something worth publishing. It’s certainly not bad enough at this point that I feel a total rewrite is necessary.*

It might take a lot of drafts to get it right, though. But hey, part of the joys of writing is a lot of hard work and touching up, right?

Anyway, I’ve made a start of the second draft, and I’m hopeful it won’t take too long to finish it. Maybe a couple months at most, if life doesn’t get too crazy and I don’t get too distracted. We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I think I’ll take a break from editing. After all, all work and no play makes Rami a bad editor, or something like that.

Goodnight, my Followers of Fear!

*This also means I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, but I can think of worse things to happen in my life. Maybe next year I’ll participate though. In the meantime, check out my article on how to survive NaNoWriMo if you’re participating this year.