I finally started working on Chapter 5 of “Light” a couple weeks ago. When I opened up the Word doc and read what was then the first couple paragraphs of that chapter, … well, I didn’t like them very much. *lol* So I started rewriting the beginning of Chapter 5.
Yes, I said “rewrite.” Younger writers consider this a “dirty” word sometimes, but – in all honesty – if you are serious about your writing and want your work to improve to the point that it’s ready for publication consideration, then it’s a necessary evil.
Most writers strive for perfection – or close to it. And usually the first time they write a story, poem, or anything else, chances are it’s not perfect. There may be some loopholes in the plot, some dialogue that’s not necessary, too many details, not enough details. Or maybe a particular scene just isn’t working at all. That’s when the revision process begins.
It seems pretty painless on paper. (No pun intended there!) Once I recognize the problem area(s), I think of how to fix them. Then I do one of the following:
- Tweak what’s already there by deleting, adding, and changing things
- Delete the original and start anew with fresh ideas
I’ve run into both scenarios during the third draft of “Light in the Barrenlands.” Scenario #1 usually is the prettier of the two. It requires the least amount of work and takes less time to rework. Then there’s Scenario #2. By deleting the original and typing something new, you’re kind of starting the process all over again. *groans* And then more than likely you’ll end up finding yourself in Scenario #1 for the next draft, and who knows? Maybe the new version won’t be any good, and up comes Scenario #2 once again.
OK, that’s a little excessive. *lol*
As I read my current draft and continue bringing in sections for my writer’s group to critique, however, I’m finding the rewriting process to be quite valuable. New ideas come to the table all the time – some will be good, others will be discarded when times comes to work on that scene again. More often than not, though, the new ideas are inspired by what’s not going smoothly in the current draft. They are improvements – and improvements are what I’m looking for at this stage.
So what does this have to do with my story?
Here is how Chapter 5 begins: The protagonist, an 9-year-old slave girl named Arrika, is preparing to sneak into the village of D’nharro so she can go to the Sunday market and sell some of the blankets she weaves. By doing this, she is deliberately breaking one of her master’s orders: Never go to the village on Sundays. And, those who are caught in the act will be punished. So there is a great deal of risk in Arrika’s decision to go to the Sunday market.
Sounds good, right? Well, it wasn’t playing itself out so effortlessly when I read what I had written. *lol*
Problem A: The first paragraph was much too long. I was basically giving readers a play-by-play of Arrika waking up, eating breakfast, getting a bath, putting on her clothes… Borrrrrrinnnnnnng. Too much unimportant stuff was going on. All these little things fall under Scenario #1.
Problem B: There was no mention of the danger that Arrika was putting herself into by sneaking into D’nharro that morning. Not to mention I had her just skipping away from the estate, making it seem way too easy. It shouldn’t be that way. And so I hear the slap of Scenario #2 on my forehand.
And so I started rewriting Chapter 5, on my never-ending quest to “get it right.” 😉
It was a good idea, though. I feel more secrecy and tension this time, as if something could go wrong even though this may be the hundredth time Arrika’s gone to the market. So it’s more interesting this time. Hopefully on the next go-round, I’ll find fewer things that need correcting. That will be a plus!
By the way, the beginning of Chapter 5 is not the first or only section of my novel that needs or needed a rewrite. But that’s another story for another day. 😉