Thursday, May 19, 2011
I don't often rewrite once I've started a book, but I have done so a couple times. I'm what's known as a clean writer (no, get your mind out of the gutter) because I tidy up my work as I go. I tend to be a bit OCD about spelling errors, punctuation, and the odd missing word.
That's not to say there aren't huge plot holes big enough to drive a trailer through. Plot holes might require major revisions so I try to avoid them if at all possible.
And continuity issues (heroine is wearing skirt at beginning of scene in restaurant, but complains about how tight her jeans are in same scene) are relatively rare for me. I am capable of holding a mass of unrelated details in my brain while writing. Just don't ask me to remember where I put my keys or watch.
Now where was I going with this thought...oh, yeah. Rewrites. I confess I just don't get the idea of rewrites--in general. I'm not talking about gentle tweaks here and there. (See definition above.) It's the massive revisions some authors mention/complain about. Working on fifth round rewrites...should be done with this round in three weeks.
No. At that point the book would be deleted, merely a bad memory. I avoid that by invoking time. If the story is not working, I set it aside and work on something else. Hence the usual three or four works in progress I have running. When one isn't working, it goes on the back burner for two or three weeks (or in one case, two years). When I get to it again, I'm able to read it with a fresh eye and decide what the problem is.
In the meantime, I've maintained productivity by working on something else while the old brain has simmered a raft of possible ideas. I find as I get older, it takes longer for full-fledged ideas to bubble to the top.
I think the thing that puzzles me the most is the sheer futility of working, working, working on a story that isn't cooperating! Why? Why not set it aside and put all that effort into something productive?
Several authors have declared they can't possibly work on more than one story at a time. Okay. My style is not for everyone. But if that one story is not working, why not move on? I suppose I just feel my time is too limited to spend it working on a story that's not going anywhere.
What about you? What's your working style--and why?