Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Creative Writing: Rewriting is Hard





I mentioned on my Tumblr blog last week that I finished the first draft of my novel, Soci of Metro. Aside from a few failed attempts at NaNoWriMo, I've never undertaken such a large piece of creative writing, and it was certainly a huge challenge for me.

But I suspect the trials and tribulations have only begun.

Following the advice of many, many writers, I've put my 40,000 draft of Soci of Metro to one side to stew in my unconscious while I work on other projects. Interestingly, the week following the completion of the draft has been great in terms of short story writing, and I've already completed two stories which I'll be sending out to various publications soon. One of these two projects, however, has taught me an unexpected, and somewhat harrowing lesson on the art of rewriting.

Back in March I completed my first short story intended for publication. The story was titled “Nine Days” and was entered and accepted into Almond Press' dystopian short story competition. Many things happened between my entering said contest and its results, including the writing course I attended, MegaWestgarth's by the Victors, and a shed load of short story reading on my part.

When I got the news that my story wasn't shortlisted, I immediately began thinking of ways to revamp it using all the tricks I'd learnt in the months in between. But as I read over Nine Days, I realised that the idea was solid, but the way I'd told the story was absolute rubbish. As so I began rewriting the whole thing. I changed the setting from New York to Yorkshire, the Italian American car mechanic to a jovial Welshman, and the prim and proper protagonist to a sex-obsessed boy racer.

And it was hard.

Not only was I writing new copy, but I was also weaving in the themes and basic storyline from the old version of Nine Days. This involved taking every scene and deciding whether to cut it, significantly modify it, or simply polish it so that it fit the new setting. Some sentences remained unchanged, whereas entire conversations were completely scraped, undeserving of a rewrite.

I've finished my 2.0 version of Nine Days and I'm very much happy with it. But the experience of finding and polishing the diamond in the rough had made me wary of my upcoming rewrite of Soci of Metro, which will include the addition of several scenes to boost the word count and expand on unrepresented characters, locations and ideas. Good gravy.

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