Saturday, April 13, 2013

Rewriting and Rewriting
By Keith N Fisher

I finished rewriting my first book this week. It’s called The Trophy, and it’s the story about a young girl who gets drawn into what appears to be a dangerous world and discovers the answers to hard questions. Considering I originally wrote it in the nineties, I’m a much better writer now. This wasn’t the first rewrite for this particular book, however, so it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. It was originally written for the national market, but I turned it into LDS fiction during one of those rewrites.

This time, I took the LDS elements out and rewrote it into the national market. I fixed errors, and showed more feelings and motivations. I also added exposition in places where the plot wasn’t clear. I found errors had slipped into the text during all those rewrites. They glared at me this time through.

As the story progressed, I had to go back and see what I’d written before in order to make it consistent. I found errors had slipped in during this rewrite, so I will be bringing it to critique group, then as always, I’ll need some beta readers.

When I finished, I went back to another of my first books and started a rewrite. This one, however, has edited, but never rewritten. It’s harder, because I can’t edit what I wrote before. This one has to be rewritten from scratch. Unlike starting a new book, I know exactly where the plot is going I know the beginning from the end and I’m writing a new book.

Rewrites can be fun but they humble the writer. It’s not just craft and structure errors. Its bad writing and you wonder if the story is best buried. This book frightens me, though. You might remember me telling you about it before in this blog. I wrote the story from an idea that came to me, beginning to end, during a church meeting when my daughter was a baby.

Now as I revisit what I wrote then, I wonder if I ought to just leave it in the drawer. While writing using the old manuscript as notes, I found a scene that actually happened in my daughter’s life. I even had the names right. Now, As I said, I wrote that when she was a baby.

It’s my Stranger than Fiction, experience and it freaks me out. It’s not the only similarity either. Did I condemn my daughter to live the life I wrote? The story is full of the main character going astray with life changing experiences. Everything works out eventually, but I really don’t want my daughter to go through all that. Maybe I should rewrite the story so that the protagonist avoids the bad stuff?

Maybe I should revisit another book I wrote. The protagonists were boys, and I don’t have a son.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

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