Joe’s Post #179
Last Wednesday, at 9:44 pm, I finished my first rewrite of my novel, Yager’s War. Or my second draft of it, depending on your point of view.
So, what’s it like to do a rewrite?
Best I compare it to cake, cuz, I’m hungry and I’ve been thinking about cake a lot.
When you start out to write a novel, it’s because you have some amazing idea or story or character you MUST write about.
Like a wedding cake, at this point, the story is perfect beyond perfect (because you’ve not written a single word and just have something in your mind.)
You can imagine the sweeping character arcs, the brilliantly described settings, the epic emotions everyone will feel and, of course, the perfect way the plot all comes together.
Then you do your first draft. My first draft had the title, The WW2 Dutch Novel. Like calling something, The Cake. And, if I continue the metaphor, imagine making a cake when you’ve only seen one made by a master. The ingredients are listed, but not the amounts. The cooking time is only hinted at. And, as for the icing, there’s merely a note saying that you need some.
But if you take seminars, go to conferences like the Surrey Writers or attend workshops, you can get the idea you might need 2 eggs instead of one and maybe use some sugar at some point.
So, off you charge to make your cake, all excited cuz, you know, you like to make cakes.
Here is the result. And, guess what, it doesn’t even taste that good.
For some writers, this is as far as it gets. To fix that first draft mess requires a lot of work. Even Stephen King says he looks at what he’s done, sighs, puts it in his drawer and looks at it at a later date.
It’s not like I didn’t try to make a good cake, I simply had to see what worked and what didn’t. And hey, it kinda looks like a cake, right? Kinda a different color than I imagined, and I think I used salt instead of sugar, but now it’s time to fix it.
Can you fix it?
No. Not really. I mean you could put it in a blender, but really, you have to start over. So, in cake creation, like in writing, you start from scratch, again. You work hard to make it look better, taste better, smell better. You also realize that achieving that perfect perfection may be a little harder than you originally imagined.
The result is the next stage. The stage that I just finished. It looks ok. It even tastes kind of cakey, but you know you can do better. You just know it.
But you have the basics of what your cake will become. You’ve learned a bit about how to make it, how to add some interesting details and it is beginning to take shape.
Now, comes the next step. Refinement.
This is where you take a look at all your parts, all your ingredients, all your techniques and ask the simple question. Can’t I just go buy a cake instead?
Well, you can, but the question you really need to ask is How can I make this better? Then better than that? Then, even better still.
That whole process will take a lot more time, but when people bite into your cake, don’t you want them saying, OMFG is that ever good, I couldn’t stop eating it, this is the best cake I’ve ever tasted.
So, too, does it go with my novel. Now I need to work on making it the absolute best it can be before I send it off, because, as my published writer friend Sean Slater said to me, Joe, you only get one chance at a first impression.
Next week, a quick update on this progress. I think I’ll make a system because I’m all about systems.
Now for some cake.