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  • The vicious cycle of rewriting

    Most writers likely go through the same thing when rewriting parts of their work. For me, my editor most recently told me that I needed to fix both the climax and resolution of my story. He was absolutely right, it needed much more tension, and the story left the reader feeling disappointed and unsettled. Definitely NOT the reaction I wanted! So, when I got his edits back a few days ago, I brainstormed ways to fix the ending. I FINALLY figured it out, and got back to writing. It's amazing how one little story can be so difficult to write, but this one has been a painstaking process from the beginning. A great experience, to be sure, but a painstaking process nonetheless. This is pretty much how I felt the entire time:

    I would get in the groove and write something.

     I would re-read what I wrote.

    I would take a break to brainstorm, and eventually figure out how to phrase what I wanted to say.

    It's difficult when you're trying to keep all the elements together. You don't want to tangent, as it's a short story. You have to make sure what each character says suits their voice. You want each phrase that you write to be golden enough to shine with glory if extracted from your piece. Basically, you have a million elements you're trying to remember at once, and you want it to be perfect so you don't have to rewrite AGAIN (or at least this is the case for me). I'm also REALLY bad at passive/active voice and tense. I have trouble identifying it in my writing. I'm going to say that it comes from studying linguistics, where if something can be understood, it is correct. That may or may not be a cop out... but generally I have pretty good grammar. I guess I wasn't listening in class when we covered those subjects, or something. :)

    This terrible need arises in me constantly - the need for things to be right the first time, so I'll spend ages on something, making it perfect. THEN I will go back a few days or months later, and it's not even close to as good as I thought it was. I guess it's nice that I can be objectively critical of my own work, but my main issue with this perfectionism is that I do very little actual writing. It's always very stilted and painstaking when I write a story, word by word, line by line. Perhaps I need to work on stories where I don't get distracted studying up on something (though that might be impossible for me), or perhaps I need to brainstorm and outline in more detail before I sit down to try and write.

    Either way, I need to find a better process, and there's no better way than trial and error - and the million other writers out there, willing to give advice. That's what makes writing conferences so valuable to us all; the panels, the experience of other writers, the camaraderie. Okay, the networking is probably pretty valuable too. :)

    So, I battled through my rewriting problems, and I have finally figured out a decent climax and resolution for my story. Hopefully my editor likes the changes; I know that I like them. It allowed me to put in more voice for the main character, and to make the ending far more macabre (think human sacrifice and creepy-crawlies) than it was in the first place. Always a good thing (especially in a paranormal anthology)! I'm going to look through the manuscript one more time before sending it into the ether, but I am excited, and a little apprehensive, about the next round of edits!


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