The Business of Rewriting

EditingAs I embark on yet another rewrite, and hopefully the last, on my first screenplay, I’ve been reviewing all the notes I’ve taken on rewriting (from books, articles, webinars) and thought I’d share a few things that should be relevant for all writers.  We’ve all heard it, and I’ve said it a time or two here, that all writing is rewriting.

First off, there should be a distinction made between editing and rewriting.  Editing is working with that final draft to make it great (and ready).  Rewriting is improving each element within your story; characters, dialogue, scenes, using the right words for impact, etc.  According to Dictionary.com – Editing means:

1. to supervise or direct the preparation of (a newspaper, magazine, book, etc.)
2. to collect, prepare, and arrange materials for publication
3. to revise or correct

Whereas Rewriting means:

1. to write in a different form or manner
2. to write again

So we will first rewrite, then edit.  Unless you’re like me, who loves to edit while they write.  Don’t follow my lead.  The first draft should be all the things you hope your story will be.  You should write it from the heart, because the subsequent drafts will be from the head.  The first draft should be free of restrictions, over-thinking, and self-censorship.  You should be carefree and wide-eyed, because it might be the last time you feel that way for the rest of this story.

One of the first lessons I learned in regards to rewriting is to remember “your vision”.  Sometimes while writing our vision gets lost.  Rewriting is the time to get reacquainted with it.  Remember why you wanted to tell this story.  Look for holes, problems with story or structure, forgotten characters (I did this once.  I had a character in the first half of a screenplay who I forgot to use later.  Oh yea, they must have been really interesting.), and logic.  Logic is one of my favorite rewriting techniques, “What would really happen?”  Trying to force a situation to get our characters where we want may make it read false.  How our characters (and people in general) would really respond in any situation is a great way to judge if our story is reading true, and might actually solve some problems we’ve run into.

I primarily write screenplays, so I have a lot of rewriting tips specifically designed for screenwriting which I can share in another post.  I wanted to keep this one a little more broad and offer some sites with helpful tips.  Many I’ve referred to myself.  LitReactor is great.  If you haven’t discovered them yet, take a look.  Use the search bar for editing or rewriting tips and you’ll come across articles like, How To Break Up With Your First DraftWriting Sentences With Impact, or 5 Steps to a Successful Digital Rewrite, in addition to a great many other articles.  The Write Life has articles about 25 Editing Tips, or Write Better Stories By Asking These Questions.  This may be part one in a series, because there is a lot of information out there.

So, if I find anything else, I’ll pass it along.  I hope you’re all having a great and productive week!

Advertisements

Rewriting Madness

EditingI’m finding that most writers have a hard time moving onto something new when there’s still work to be done on the piece they just completed.  Take me, for example.  I am so determined to get my first script right, that I can’t move onto anything else (I have tried), and what’s worse, more ideas keep popping up for other stories or new ones, so that I feel like my brain is running in every direction possible without really going anywhere, not with any real progress anyway.  I should learn from this, go work on something else, and then maybe the answers I seek would come to me…but I can’t.  I am compelled, driven, possessed…Last night at my writer’s group, we discussed this very topic.  When you’re so close to a piece, it’s hard to gain any perspective.  Sometimes you need  little break.  I’ve written about this before and it was reiterated to me last night.  It’s the “forest through the trees” scenario.  It’s hard to leave something unfinished.  We tend to feel guilty that we aren’t working on it.  Why would we spend all this time without seeing it through to the end?

This particular script has always been my baby (but is quickly becoming the redheaded stepchild – sorry redheads, no offense intended, as I’m sure you’ve noticed my love of ginger boys 😉 ).  The one I thought would do good things.  And yet every pass I make at it makes me feel further away from its original purpose.  This is why it would be a very good idea to separate myself for a little while.  There are a few impending deadlines, but getting some distance is probably best for everyone involved, because I’m not sure if the new ideas are any better at this point.  *If anyone has any resources to utilize to solve this dilemma, PLEASE share them!

When I talked with another writer, a novelist, last night, about the rewriting process, we agreed that being a novelist is better because of ownership.  You work with an editor who helps suggest ways of improving your work, but you are the author of that piece.  Your name will be the only one on it.  Whereas a screenwriter works alone for months or years honing that script into a viable, sellable work, only to be replaced.  It makes me cringe every time I think of it.  And this is where the crazy begins…

Okay, I realize I’m rambling.  Probably because I’m going crazy.  This is all madness.  Rewriting madness.  I believe it’s a state of mind that happens to all writers driven to finalize their work.  And then I heard this –

“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated. Neurotic. Caffeine-addled. Crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.” — Robert DeNiro

I’m not quite sure how to respond to this except to say that now maybe people will understand what we go through on a regular basis.  If you’re also struggling with the “madness” here are a couple of links I shared before about editing.  One from The Write Life and the other is a list of essays regarding rewriting from LitReactor so you can decide on the topic that might work best for you.

Here’s to regaining some sanity!  Wishing you all the best!

A Few Things…

A long weekend with my sister off from work led to very little progress on the writing front.  We did finally watch some movies on the ever-growing Netflix queue, so a little progress made on the personal to do list, as well as getting the living space more organized.  Yay.  And I’m finally making some headway in the novel, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  It takes a little effort, because his writing style is very particular, but a definite read for any writer.  Quick overview – it’s about the future and how books are banned.  One of my goals (not to be completed in a year) is to read all the “best” books.  I grew up in a state that ranks at the bottom of education, so I’ve taken it upon myself to read those things I should have years ago.  I alternate a must-read with a pleasure-read, but have been doing rather poorly the last year or so, so, it’s on the list!  Here’s a link to the 100 Best Novels, if you’re up for the challenge.  I was recently asked why I’m doing this, and my response, “I’m a writer.  I should be educated in those that are considered great in my field”.

I wanted to do more with my dot.com (I love saying that), so I’ve started to add “Excerpts” of my work for a little insight into the types of stories I’ve written (all part of the “branding” I’m trying to achieve), a “Calendar of Events” for contests and writing opportunities (there are links for you to explore), and a Pinterest link to see the types of things that inspire me; people, places, castles, clothes, art, etc.  Take a gander if you want to waste a little time –

Hiddles(rugged)

(in adding that link, I still had Tom Hiddleston on the page, so that was a nice, welcome sight…So this is for my fellow Hiddles’ swooners!  Yes, those are both words.  Or will be.)  All of these are a work in progress.  And I’d love if you’d share any writing items (contests, meetings, conventions, classes, etc) of note as well.  I’ll put them up on the calendar.

Today’s post is a little random, as I am, at the moment…LitReactor shared The 10 Weirdest and Most Wonderful Libraries in the World.  I think I could be happy working in a library.  I’ve always wanted to open a little coffee/tea shop and have loads of books that people could take, swap, share.  That’ll be later.

And then not to forget about the writer’s struggle, The Write Life shared the Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing.  This would be a monetary investment, but sometimes, it’s necessary.  I have a couple of those to make in order to move forward.  This would be one of those catch-22 scenarios where you need a little money to make a little money.

So it’s Thursday and this is my first post of the week.  Shameful.  I hope you’re all doing better than I!

Continued success!

All About Being Helpful

Writing-Clip-ArtSo I’m done moping.  Although I felt a slight indignation last night, today I only wanted to send out positive energy.  As writers, we are always striving to better our writing by continuously reading and learning.  In this vein, I am attaching a handful of, hopefully, helpful resources…do with them what you will.  I have a dozen or so pages to read (oh, yes, again), and will share what I learn from all of those next week.  I suppose this is a good way to accumulate a blog inventory.

Although mainly for screenwriters, Script offers tips and advice that all writers can take advantage of.  If you haven’t taken a look at their site yet, besides their own blogs and information, they offer free downloads on a variety of topics, such as query letters, editing, dialogue, networking, etc.  I’m taking a look at a couple of them this weekend that I’ve already downloaded to test their value.  Here is the list of available downloads.

LitReactor is another useful site.  If you’re a fan of Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club, and my personal favorite, Invisible Monsters), you’ll be happy to learn he regularly contributes.  My favorite article from him is about Thought Verbs.  He reassures the reader that it will make for better writing and who’s going to argue with a writer like Chuck?  I also follow them of Facebook so I don’t miss anything.

A site I came across today, Daily Writing Tips, has loads of information on everything from grammatical errors to proper punctuation to proper word usage.  This would be a good one to bookmark as a reference tool.  I also like the site by Grammar Girl, Quick and Dirty Tips.

I’m also a fan of the site, The Write Life.  I’ve attached articles multiple times from this particular page and follow them on Facebook as well.

Well, that should be enough to get you started.  *Wink.  Please feel free to share sites you find useful as well!

Have a wonderful and productive weekend!

*Image from megrosoff.co.uk  

Writing and Music

Music&Writing (Zemanta)I am a big proponent of listening to inspiring music when you write.  Depending on the writing, be it a romance, adventure, or thriller, the music you listen to should be a compliment to that style.  For my romantic pieces I usually listen to classical, or what’s considered new age — wordless.  For the spy script I’m currently writing, the music has been a bit more intense — sometimes without words, but with a harder sound (Depeche Mode and Muse have a few wordless pieces that are great for writing to), or some techno and rock.  I’ve also created playlists based on tv shows or movies I’ve liked with similar interests like La Femme Nikita and Alias for my spy script, or Pride & Prejudice and A Single Man for my more romantic pieces.  Just think about what music has done for you in your life.  You hear a song and can be reminded of your childhood sweetheart, your grandparents, graduating high school, or taking a road trip.  I have a few songs that remind me of backpacking through Europe, because I only took two tapes (yes, tapes) for six weeks.  Or when you hear a song you saw in a movie and are right back in that moment and its corresponding emotions.  I mean who doesn’t want to cry whenever they hear a Sarah McLachlan song?  Music is powerful.  It inspires.  And it brings people together.

I know some writers that must have quiet when they write, but I find the silence more distracting, and depending on the time of day, and your writing environment, the outside noises can be more intrusive and a major concentration breaker.  I’ve created multiple playlists on both iTunes and YouTube that I can go to depending on the particular piece I’m working on.  And YouTube is great (and a time sucker) for sharing other music similar to that which you’ve just listened to.  And I love being introduced to new stuff, so when LitReactor shared this article, 9 Great Albums to Accompany Your Writing Process, I was immediately intrigued, and found a few new pieces to add to the collection.

I like the symbiotic nature of writing with music.  I have been given strong visuals to pieces I’m working on when listening to certain music.  I remember writing this romantic period piece while listening to Enya, The Sun in the Stream, in particular.  She is my go to artist when I write.  It was a series of visuals; walking through a vast golden field, a wild castle garden, and two men in a castle courtyard practicing with swords while a woman lingered above watching.  Still to this day, whenever I hear this song, I see these images.

Everyone has their method, and if you’re a writer who likes the silence and it works for you, then don’t let me tell you otherwise.  For me personally, music is so much a part of my life, in every aspect, that it is only natural for me to listen and be inspired further.  I only wish I was better at playing music myself.

Have a good week and best of luck in your writing endeavors!  And thank you to ItalyEnya for the upload!

*Image by Zemanta

Editing Tips

EditingAll writing is rewriting.  So editing is something we writers must be good at (well, good might not be the best word for the ninja like precision we must hack away at our beloveds).  We must be swift and merciless when it comes to cutting down description, dialogue, and the stuff I like to call “fluff” (the extra things you might like and want to add but aren’t truly necessary to tell the story).  Sometimes we have to cut whole, beautiful, emotional scenes or likable characters…there’s that pang in my chest just thinking about it…because it doesn’t work.  It doesn’t drive the story.  As a screenwriter, I think it’s worse.  You only have 120 pages (or less) and there’s so much blank page (and then there are so many more hands in that pot as it moves forward).  As creatives, placing limitations on our process is a contradiction.  That’s why you write from the heart in the first draft and from the head in the inevitable numerous following drafts.  *And this is why you don’t need to read the following articles until you are ready to edit.  Don’t let them sway you.

Yes, we create something out of nothing.  But.  That first draft is never as good as it seemed in our heads.  Sometimes to get our character from point A to point B they have to take a few detours and that changes the story on the page from where we originally imagined it.  So, there has to be finessing, finding different ways to say the same thing, and the inevitable (just in time for Halloween) horror movie style slashing.

I, myself, am in the midst of yet another rewrite on one of my scripts, my baby, and am really having a difficult time separating my emotions from the story I’m trying to tell and the best way to tell it.  I’ve had this story in the works for quite some time and every time I go in for a rewrite, it changes dramatically.  This time around, I’m cutting the entire third act and reworking the earlier scenes and it’s starting to morph into something else entirely, yet again, which at this point, I’m not even sure I like yet.  And what’s worse, I’m on a deadline.

So today I offer up two sites with some tips.  The first is an article by one of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahniuk, on LitReactor about “thought” verbs.  The other is a checklist by The Write Life — 25 Editing Tips for Tightening Your Copy.

I wish you all the best in your writing efforts!  Have a great week!

*Image found on professionalnoveleditors.com

Thick Skin

One of my goals in writing this blog is to share helpful tips, websites, information, etc. for fellow writers.  When I find something useful I will pass it along.  I joined litreactor.com recently and it’s filled with loads of information including the following article, which is something I definitely need a lesson in:

http://litreactor.com/columns/thickening-skin-6-tips-for-taking-criticism

Take a look around the rest of the site, and if you find something interesting, send it my way.

Wishing you all the best!