I’m about to embark on massively rewriting my contemporary fantasy manuscript for the Novel in Six project. I’ve never done anything like this before, having only rewritten short fiction, and doing more than just a pass where I tweak a few things is intimidating. So I’ve been reading a little about the process and have come away with a few mantras, ready to hit the ground running.
- None of this was a waste of time. Not a word of what you’ve written before was useless; every word was needed to get to where you are now and to discover the story in the first place. Even cut words have their value as they were used to explore and uncover character, plot, and setting.
- Trust your instincts. If you think that something needs to be changed, you’re probably right. Don’t overthink it. Go with your gut. Is something not working? Just get in there and start fixing it.
- Take a break. It’s okay to get frustrated and need to walk away sometimes. Go make tea, go work out, go for a drive, go make dinner, go take a night off. It’s all part of the process. Just get ready to buckle down again ASAP.
- Set realistic goals. This is where Ni6 really comes in handy for me. I’ll be setting weekly writing goals for myself and striving to meet them in order to stay on target. My goal is roughly 70,000 words, many complete rewrites, some re-purposed from the current draft.
- No draft is perfect. This is especially true of the current draft. The sooner you accept that it needs work and can be improved, the easier it will be to let go of scenes that just aren’t working.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The old adage works here, too. Just because you’re cutting something from this draft doesn’t mean it might not come in handy in some future project. Hang onto those gems that just aren’t working here; you might be able to use them somewhere else.