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Posts Tagged ‘rewriting’

I haven’t been blogging much. The reason is that I’m the middle of rewriting my second novel. And the Australian Open, of course. Actually I haven’t been on the Internet much. Well, hardly much. Only to the Australian Open site, to check scores and schedules.

 

You see, I had written my novel but I was a little iffy about my lead character. I have a pretty keen ear for dialogue (yes, even the one I write) and she felt…stilted. I kept going over the MS again and again to figure out where and why and try and fix that. And I realised the problem was everywhere. And it was because I hadn’t succeeded in being her. I was trying too hard to be a character I don’t identify with. Or perhaps, not trying hard enough.

 

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I decided to change the lead character. Her attributes anyway. Now that changes the slant of the story and all interactions she has with other characters. Guys, this is a major rewrite, ‘cos, you see, based upon the new qualities, the characters she didn’t like earlier suddenly become her friends and friends become foes. As for lovers, let’s not even go there.

 

So that started another search for a character. And then for two weeks I drove myself and everyone around me crazy, trying to come up with a character that’s quirky and funny and also goes with the flow of the story. I’ve been told I started to mutter to myself and randomly grab pieces of paper and scribble on them maniacally and generally behaving madly. I believe the topic of having me committed was a seriously debated one at home.

 

And then I had a breakthrough. And the Australian Open started. As far as I’m concerned it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

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There are a few basic polishing tools one should use while re-writing. Why rewriting? Well, for one, while you’re writing your first draft you should just be concentrating on getting your story out. Donning the editor’s hat comes later. If you try to do both simultaneously, you’ll get nowhere.

And it is here that your computer, either the basic word-processing software or your rewriting software, can be of immense help. Here’s what I do.

After I’ve written my story, rewritten it to take care of the language and loopholes, I rewrite it once more to polish it.

  • 1. The first thing I do is look for places where I have begun two consecutive sentences or two consecutive paragraphs the same way. Usually this happens with the word ‘then’ or ‘next’.
  •  2. I do a find and search thing for exclamation marks. If there are many exclamation marks in any one particular sentence, I try to do away with all but one. 

For instance, if I’ve written: Aha! So my investment really paid off! I knew it!, I retain the one after Aha and remove the others. In the beginning I felt that by using exclamation marks I was being emphatic where i should have been emphatic. Wrong. I was being distracting.

  • 3  Next I use the search and find tool to spot adjectives and adverbs ending with ‘ly’ and see if I can do away with the ‘ly.’ If my search throws up phrase like there was this hugely popular, I remove hugely. Hey, popular is popular. And then if I’ve written, “I don’t need to resort to that!” she replied indignantly, I replace it with, She looked indignant.I don’t need to resort to that!she said. In this instance you can even do away with she said.

This is not always possible. For instance, if I’ve written, “Something about some distant cousin,” she said absently, I can’t very well write She looked absent. “Something about some distant cousin,” she said, can I? However, what I could use is, she looked like she was not altogether there or she looked distracted.

The upshot is that, don’t try too hard. Write whatever comes easily, else it will look forced.

 More on this tomorrow.

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