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Friday, December 12, 2014

Writerly Woes: Frustration

When I asked for writerly woes the word "frustration" was tossed around A LOT. Usually, in connection with rewrites. Someone mentioned rewriting the same scene multiple times and it never working. Another person mentioned rewriting an entire chapter to oblivion before her editor accepted it.
It's not a secret rewrites are tough. If you didn't think it worked well, you wouldn't have written it that way to begin with. And the original wording probably does make perfect sense in your head. You know exactly what you're thinking, but a stranger picking up your book doesn't have access to that information. You've got to spell it all out. If you've rewritten something more than once there is a good chance you're working with one of two problems. 1)Insufficient detail. (This doesn't necessarily mean not enough details. You could be including the wrong details. 2) Is the scene needed?

If something really does need to be included but it's making no sense, it's probably a problem showing. Paint the picture better. I would like to give you advice on how to do this, but since showing is my personal nemesis and will probably be the death of me, I will do a flip instead. You could open Youtube and watch videos of dancing lambs. This won't help you show, but it might make you laugh.

But if the picture is well painted, cute and adorable and still not working, the scene could be unneeded. If it isn't propelling your story or adding depth to your characters (or preferably both), there is a good chance the scene isn't working, because it's not needed. It can't do it's job, because it doesn't have a job to do. This is where the phrase "death to your darlings" comes in. You may need to cut that scene or at least repurpose it. (Repurposing can be much harder. I'm in the process of rewriting an entire novel based on one line that wasn't working that I didn't want to change). If you do cut the scene make a scrap file on your computer and save it. You may be able to use the same scene with different characcters later. (Or if you're planning a series maybe even the same characters in a different book).

What are your suggestions for dealing with frustrating rewrites?


John Doe said...

I know that feel. I am in full agreement with last paragraph.

Liz A. said...

I love rewriting. It's the finishing that gets me...

Heather said...

I don't even haves vision of a novel but rewriting comes easier when it has had time to sit and then I'm not so offended when I have to chsnge it. Lol have missed your blog!