Posts Tagged ‘rewriting’

So last night, with no Wi-Fi to distract me (and someone won’t be coming by to fix that until tomorrow, dammit), and with only a few chapters left, I managed to finish up the second draft of Laura Horn, the novel I’ve been editing these past couple of months. This is actually rather extraordinary, because if you remember when I first started talking about editing LH, I was worried that certain elements of the story wouldn’t hold up and I would have to rewrite the whole thing.

Now, if you haven’t heard of LH on this blog yet, it’s a novel I wrote in my third year of college about a girl with a very dark past who becomes involved entrapped in a terrible conspiracy when she comes across some information certain powerful people would kill to keep hidden. It’s got some false-accusation-by-powerful-folks elements, a little Die Hard in the last act, and it all centers around a deeply-troubled teenage girl. Sounds a little crazy, right? And that’s why I worried I would have to rewrite it, so it sounded a little less crazy.

But I decided to try and edit it, see if this story was still salvageable in some form. And over the next couple of months, I found myself pleasantly surprised. Turns out, the story was much more salvageable than I thought. I just had to change certain details, such as how these powerful people try to isolate my main character (big thing in this story, believe me), combine a whole bunch of chapters (I think six chapters were smashed together to make longer chapters that flowed better), chuck out two chapters that were unnecessary after detail changes or were extraneous upon second read, and a few other details here and there. The result was a much better second draft, and I still managed to keep a lot of the details and plot points I wanted to keep. Not bad for a few months’ work.

I also noticed some interesting stuff with the second draft. For instance, there’s the page and word counts: with the first draft, the page count (using 8.5″ x 11″ MS Word pages, using 12-point Times New Roman font) was 356 pages and 94,774 words. Meanwhile, the second draft had 334 pages and 98,498 words. Now take a second look at those numbers. If there are less pages, why are there more words in the second draft?

Well, I’ve been thinking on that, and I think it has partly to do with how my writing style has evolved since I wrote the first draft of LH. As well as changing how I construct the sentences I use to tell my stories, I’ve come to try and limit how much dialogue I use and try to do more introspection. Now, dialogue is important for any story, but it can quickly fill up a page while leaving a lot of blank space. And in Laura Horn, I found that some of that page-filling dialogue was unneeded, especially after some of the chapters from the first draft were combined or cut out of the second draft.

And in place of this dialogue, I ended up putting in a lot more introspective segments, the kind where the characters are looking deep into themselves, figuring out things or reflecting on situations through their own unique lenses. Those segments use a lot of words, and fill up a page while leaving less blank space than before. That explains why there’s less pages but more words (and I have a feeling that this difference may show up even more in the third draft when I get around to that).

So now that I’ve finished the second draft, what’s next for Laura Horn? Well, as always I’ll put it aside for now so when I start a new draft, I can look at it with fresh eyes. And I will need those fresh eyes, since there are a few things even with the second draft I would like to change: I still think I could put in a bit more introspective stuff and get rid of unneeded portions of dialogue. I also wonder if I could bring out more of Laura’s personality earlier in the story and make her more relatable. There are also some portions near the end which are a little melodramatic, and there are places where I feel I could do more to make the reader believe what is happening. We’ll see what happens when I get into that third draft.

In the meantime, I’ll take a look at a few of the short stories for my new collection Teenage Wasteland and polish them up a bit before starting a third draft of my novel/senior thesis Rose. I’ll also be working on the final draft of Video Rage with an editor I’ve contracted to work with, so all those who have been waiting desperately for the sequel to Reborn City can calm down now because I’ll hopefully have that book out later this year. And I’d like to have enough time to do some research for a novel I want to write this November for NaNoWriMo. So yeah, I’ll be busy, and I’m not even getting into the things that normally occupy my life outside of writing.

But hey, I wouldn’t have it any other way, would I? Wish me luck, my Followers of Fear, because I’m going to try accomplish a lot this year, and I’m going to be blogging about it the whole damn way.

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.