Pathfinding, or the Ongoing Saga of Rewriting

Whenever I hear about or meet other writers who can write a first draft without changing too many of their basic mechanics later, I can’t help my twinge of envy. By ‘basic mechanics’ I mean the type or number of POVs, or the age range, or the genre. Every MS I’ve finished that has undergone more than one draft has seen at least one–if not more–of these facets change.

Even though I’m learning to give these basics a lot more thought before I start the outlining process, much less the actual writing, I still tend to overreach or attempt something that I’d like to work well, but probably won’t.

If you’ve been waiting for my explanation regarding the rewrite of Facing the Music, this is it. The first draft I completed involved two POVs–one male, one female. The story was written in third person past tense. I saw a lot of promise in that completed draft, but there was also plenty wrong with it.

After I’d identified the majority of my problems with that first completed version, I came to the same awful conclusion I’d faced several times with The Recruited. Not only did I have to cut back to one POV, I’d have to rewrite most of the manuscript to do so.

That was the bad news. The good news is that I’m already close to halfway through the next draft of Facing the Music, and I’m already liking this version so much more. I’ve chosen to focus on Evan’s POV, not just because his is more interesting to me, but because his provides a much more unique insight into Leslie’s. There’s also a lot more tension, thanks in part to the existing characters having more depth and the removal of the characters who mostly took up space.

Although the latter half to two thirds of the plot are close enough for government standards to the original that I haven’t had to brainstorm much new material, the sequence of events has required some alterations. Amazingly, those alterations have made the rest of the story fit together much more tightly.

There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m going to have plenty more editing to do once the rewrite is finished. At the same time, it’s an incredible confidence-booster to me that the rewriting process has become so much easier for me with each passing draft. Maybe with more practice, I won’t have to spend quite so much time fussing with the structure before moving on to more exciting revisions.

What about you? Is there some aspect of revising you constantly struggle with? If so, what is it?

 

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