Never Rush ReWrites

Unfortunately for you, I tend to blog about whatever I’m doing at the moment.  Right now, I’m pounding out pages to finish my third romance. And yes, a deadline is in my near future. But even though I want those page numbers to grow, I still take time to rewrite as I go.

So that’s what’s on my mind at the moment.  Is it worth it?  Would it be faster, better if I just wrote the damn thing and then went back to tweak it?  Nope.  Because I wish I had patience, but I don’t. Once a book’s finished, I don’t like it as much anymore.  I happily plot the entire story ahead, and that’s all right.  The plot points are just dots on a map:

  1. Ian hires a new assistant chef to make Paula–his head chef’s–work load easier.  Tyne, the new guy, is hot and intense, but Paula’s only interested in Jason, the man who delivers the fresh meats and produce each day.
  2. When Jason sees Tyne in the kitchen with Paula, he gets snarky–obviously feeling threatened, so he asks Paula to meet him at Chase’s bar on Friday night and promises her a dance.
  3. Chase makes time to sit and chat with Paula when she walks into his bar.  He warns her off Jason, tells her that the man’s a player and he doesn’t want to see her get hurt.  Paula finds it easy to talk to Chase. They have a lot in common, but Chase is interested in Daphne, who walks into the bar with the professor she’s started seeing.

Okay, you get the point.  Plot points are only direction signs to keep the story moving in the right direction.  I have to bring them to life, and that’s where my characters come in.  They still surprise me with what they do with the little I provide for them.

I ask them: What do you want to do to make this scene work? Paula, the practical character, will get down to business.  Her work and her kids always come first.  Tyne gets things done, but he always puts his own spin on them.  And Chase will use charm and smiles to make everything he does look easy.

So plot points are fun.  I can’t wait to see how my characters react to what I’ve thrown at them.  They keep me interested all the way to The End.  But then the story’s told.  Finished.  And it’s taken me a long time.  Once I reach that stage, I don’t mind (even enjoy) tweaking what my beta readers mark for me to fix, because I never get everything right, but those are usually broader fixes or word choices circled in red.  Usually, those fixes don’t take that long.  But to go through each page, each scene, each chapter and work to make each word more vivid, each exchange more dynamic–nope, it wouldn’t happen once the book is done.  So I rewrite as I go.

I often spend two hours each morning, rewriting pages I wrote the day before.  Most of the time, it’s to find what’s missing.  Yes, my characters are moving and talking through each scene, but have I made their motivations clear?  Have I hinted at deeper issues?  Am I describing surface/shallow actions, or do they have depth/substance?  And have I added emotions?   Do I give a feel for their surroundings?  A sense of place?

When my brain’s tired, when I’ve written a few hours and words don’t spring readily to mind, I fall into lazy habits.  “He smiled.  He frowned.  He shrugged.”  My action tags grow minimal and repetitive.  During rewrites, I push myself to be more creative, more original.  (At least, I try.  I still get red marks for those:)  In my second romance, Opposites Distract (coming out July 5), Brody’s eyebrows did all sorts of things when I ran out of mental juices.  Thankfully, my editor nixed most of them.  Sad thing is, I never noticed how talented Brody’s eyebrows were until I saw them circled in red.  Now, I try to pay attention.  Repetition–of any kind–gets old.

I’d never spend two hours on each set of ten to fifteen pages when I finish a book.  It just wouldn’t happen.  I’m sick of the book by then.  So, for me, I don’t have a choice.  It’s rewrite-as-I-go if I want to put in the time to do it right.

Every writer’s different.  Find what works for you.  But a lot of people recommend turning off your editor brain while you write a first draft.  And that works for them.  But it doesn’t for me.  I’ve dug out extra little nuances and tidbits by going over what I did the day before.  Best of luck that you find the writer’s path that’s right for you.  And Happy Writing!


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6 thoughts on “Never Rush ReWrites

  1. I cry to you from the bottom of a pit in which no magic ladder leans – re-writes are my way of life! My truth is – and I will admit this nowhere else – I simply don’t like my current book. But as is so often the case with tragic lovers I cannot break off the relationship. The essence of the plot has already altered at least twice. The earlier books were done in six months, this one has taken nearly five years. Five years! Thank god I don’t do this for a living!


    1. Five years? That’s a LONG time. Have you tried putting it aside–don’t think of it as abandoning it, just taking a vacation from each other–to let you and it breathe for a while before you return to it? Sometimes, as with tragic lovers, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and things that you’ve banged your head against smooth out and become clear. A time apart can be a good thing. When I’m really frustrated with a book or story, sometimes I work on something else for a while, just to make myself concentrate on something different and gain some needed objectivity. And I hate to admit this, but every once in a while, I try to write a book that I’m not quite ready to write. I don’t have the finesse or mindset to do it justice. That’s why I started playing with romance. It MADE me concentrate more on character and relationships. Whatever you decide, though, I wish you the best. Good luck with your book!


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