Now that NaNoWriMo is over, if you have finished your novel, you’re going to be setting into the re-write stage pretty soon. I’m still working on finishing mine, so it’ll be a while. The rewrite stage is the hardest part, in my opinion. It’s not just editing out commas and weird sentence structures. It’s taking your story, tearing it apart, and building it back up again.
I have a novel I’ve been working on for almost a year and a half now. It started out pretty good, or at least I thought so, but it’s been through 5 rewrites in the past year, two editors, and at least three different endings to what I thought was a perfectly good ending in the first place. Is it better now than it was? Yes. Did I have to make a ton of compromises and changes (some I’ll probably never completely agree with)? Yes. It’s finally on its way to being done, though, and when it is, I’ll finally be able to breathe.
That brings us to more rewrites for other stories. Getting started it hard. Figuring out where to go and what to do is hard. It’s important to keep pushing through. Sometimes you have to take a year-long break to figure things out. So how do you rewrite without losing your mind?
I can’t say I’m exactly sure except that there is sun beyond the clouds, and if you keep pushing, you’ll find the gap that leads you to it. If you can’t figure out where to start, it’s often good to go back to the beginning and try to remember why you wanted to write this story. If that doesn’t work, consider what message the story is trying to convey – then work around that. Work from there building what you need. Take out characters, add in characters, change POV if you have to. It can definitely seem daunting – if that’s the case, break it into smaller, more manageable portions. Looking at a whole rewrite can be extremely overwhelming and make you want to crawl into a hole and die, take back everything you’ve written. I felt like that several times during the editing of this novel.
Don’t fear the rewrite, for without it, novels aren’t likely to see the light of day. I just read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and as it said, “try-error-try.” Keep trying.