Friday, May 7, 2010

Blind Rewrites

Jenny and Ali talk about a method of rewriting short stories called "The Blind Rewrite." I don't know that it warrants capitalization and quotation marks, but that's the way they always say it. What you do, as I understand it, is rewrite without looking at the first draft. Hence, blind. The theory behind that is that you will remember what it important and forget what isn't. Not sure that I completely agree, but it's a method.

However, how does one manage that with a novel? Yeah, I didn't even want to think about going there. But I came up with something that worked.

Step 1) Print out a clean copy of manuscript.
Step 2) Read and mark up.
Step 3) Add in any pertinent comments from critique group.
Step 4) Using the now not-so-clean copy, retype the whole thing.

Oooh, you say, no wonder it took you so frikkin' long to get that rewrite done. Well, yeah. But I think it was worth it. We'll find out at the end of the month if the CWC agrees.

There were areas in the original where I'd started telling instead of showing. There were missing scenes needed for tying others together, for clarifying certain things, for heightening tension. I had dreaded having to write those new scenes, but by retyping the whole thing, those scenes just kind of organically appeared.

Another benefit was noticing a lot of continuity issues and many other missing scenes. I was also more aware of repetitions--words, phrases, ideas, actions. I know I didn't catch or fix all of them--that's what critique groups are for--but I caught a lot more than I did in the read-through.

One of my fears going into the rewrite was that I wouldn't have enough when I finished. I started with just shy of 200 pages, maybe 50,000 words. Way too short for a mainstream novel. What if there wasn't enough 'there' there for a full novel? Well, not to worry. The finished product was 603 pages and a little over 104,000 words. Which gives me a nice buffer for the things CWC will cut.

Cutting and pasting would not have solved nearly so many of the problems. Especially not the problems I didn't realize I had. This may be a time-consuming method, but it's one I'm going to keep using. At least for the 1st rewrite after receiving feedback from the gang.

There will be other things to fix, but I hope that this version is in good enough shape that those won't be major.

Fingers crossed.


Anonymous said...

I am SO GLAD I took the time to read this! This is exactly what I'm trying to do (about 2/3 done) and have just been struggling, struggling with getting thru it. But the cut/paste thing didn't work well with novel #1, thus why I'm trying this - different tact - with novel #2. Don't have a crit grp to help me either :( The monster binder awaits so plz excuse me now. Thanks!

Ali said...

Blind re-write, guided re-write, or hopping on one foot while holding your nose re-write, the important part is the re-write part ;)

Cheers for diving in!