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Rewriting As An Art

Yesterday's 8 pages brought me to the end of Chapter Nine, and damn if my thoughts weren't on rewriting and how it's a good thing.

So I love Amber. She writes so beautifully I want to delete everything I have in the trunk and on the screen.

She illustrates how rewriting is a good thing. Whether it happens in the first draft or the second or even at some point where "draft" is a ghost of reality, rewriting is good thing.

I believe Orson Scott Card provided examples a few years back when he was writing Ender's Shadow. It's probably somewhere on his site, but it would take me a long time to dig through to find the link.

I should feel embarrassed to show this snippet from the end of the original chapter, but examples help. The material from the first draft comes from the end of Chapter Six, which weighed in at whopping 54 pages. The current material comes from the end of Chapter Nine. I had split Chapter Six into two chapters to address some pace issues. I'm happy with that aspect of the rewrite so far.

The two halves are actually two pages shorter than the original material. Which is interesting by itself because by the time I reached this point in the previous draft, the next chapter started on page 211. It's now starting on page 225. Even factoring in all the cuts and general tightening I expected from the rewrite, I've still gained pages. The new chapter I inserted after Chapter Two to address foreshadowing issues was only a bare 10 pages. While that isn't hard evidence it bears out what I've seen with rewrites:

1) they're tighter and more readable
2) they're potentially longer


“So there's time.”

Christoper felt as if a weight had lifted. He had worried that he'd abandoned Joan by coming with Burr. That he had lied to himself when he felt he should lead a charge after her abductors.

“He won't take her until his mind is his own again,” Burr agreed.

Christoper couldn't contain his anger and contempt any longer--he wanted to express his horror, which burned through his gut and made him want to vomit--as he pictured Joan at the mercy of these creatures. “Who the hell is he? Who the hell is Quincey?”

Burr made a face as if he'd bitten something sour. “You might say he's your cousin.”


Christopher felt as if a weight had lifted. “So there's time? I can save her?” He had worried that he had abandoned Joan by coming with Burr.

“There aren't any guarantees,” Burr said. “Quincey won't take her until his mind is his own again, but your only choice when you see her ... you might need to kill her.”

Christopher turned away. He felt empty.

Hope tasted like smoke.

I'm happier with this second. Especially the last line. I don't know whether it's as good as what Amber wrote, but it will have to be good enough for me. It's my voice. My rewritten voice. I'm not an artist; the collar is blue here. But rewriting is as much an art as writing itself.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 27th, 2007 04:55 pm (UTC)
aww snagy :)
i think you raise a good point; what we write has to work within our Own Voices, and also within the framework of the story we are trying to tell -- obviously your edgy, dark world is not the same as my 1500's slavic landscape, so the way we tell our stories needs to be different.

i think we should keep that in mind when reading other people's work. I know for myself its really easy to get caught up in what I perceive as Other People Who Are Better Than I Am, and I dunno, I don't think it does ourselves anygood.

in your examples you are getting two different ideas across for me. I think they both work, but the second is more plotty, almost, and doesn't rely on the internal dialogue to get the point across! :)

Feb. 27th, 2007 05:44 pm (UTC)
Exactly what I was trying to get across tyvm.

And when we do read other people's work, while trying to still enjoy what we see and separate the analyst, we need to think, "I like that. I need to try harder."

Glad you liked both versions. I'm trying for something smoother in the second and the characterization bits are spread out a bit more. Fewer lumps in the potatoes.*

When I read your stuff, I know I'm going to cry. It's like standing on the beach watching the tsunami waves rush toward me. What I want to do with this book is sneak that cry up on people. I want them to say, "Aww, man, I can't believe you did you have to do that to them. That just makes me sad."

* - Not that there's anything wrong with lumps in the potatoes. I like some lumps.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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