Rewriting: Its All in the Plan
Facing a rewrite can be difficult, if not downright daunting.
You've written a draft (or two, or three), gotten feedback, and now you're ready to make the changes in your manuscript. So you open the file on your computer….and sit there and stare at the words on the page.
Let's admit it, sometimes confronting a manuscript page that needs rewriting can be as dreadful as facing a blank computer monitor. How to make room in all those words for what you need to do? What to cut? What to add? Where to begin? Wouldn't it just be easier to shut down the computer?
What I've found is that I can just discover a way into the work, everything else will follow. And often I end up tricking myself in order to find that way in. So here's how I do it:
1. First, I ponder. I review the critiques I've gotten or the notes I've taken. Sometimes I do this the night before I know I'm going to work on my novel in order to give my subconscious time to play around with the ideas.
2. Second, I insert. This is where the tricking myself begins. I open the file and tell myself that all I'm going to do is insert notes–in all caps–places where I am going to make changes. Then I go through the entire chapter and insert away. This is not difficult because I already have the notes.
3. Third, I rewrite. By now I've reviewed and inserted and not only do I have a good idea what I'm going to change, I know where I'm going to change it. The notes are all in place, ready for me to roll with. And best of all, I can open the file and start anytime, knowing that I've marked up the manuscript and I know what I need to do.
I think its the not knowing how to proceed that stops me. So I try to find ways to know ahead of time how I'm going to proceed. It works for me. By following this plan I'm generally able to convince myself to hop right to a rewrite.
Note I said generally, not always. But I'll take whatever I can get.