The Power of the Rewrite A #TBT Repost

Note: I’m swamped with my own rewrite! So here’s a throw-back-Thursday post from last year.

The Power of A Rewrite

Q: Dear Therapist, I hear that novels are not written they are rewritten. But I edit as I write. Is that considered rewriting?, all I feel I need is a final polish. Why should I spend time with a rewrite? What do I gain?

A: I love this topic. To rewrite or not to rewrite… that is the question. Let’s just say up front, everyone has a different writing process. Fast, slow, edit-as-you-go, write and rewrite. Early risers, late nighters. A thousand words a day. Five thousand words a day.

Writers come in all shapes and mind-sets.

Some writers plot to the minute detail. Others have a loose idea of what they want to do when they sit down to write and let the story come to them day by day.

Some writers mix it up – do a bit of planning while letting the story underneath develop as they write.

You really have to do what works for you as a writer and I advise you to find that routine and stick to it. But with an option clause. Change is often necessary.

That being said, I’m a big fan of the rewrite. Even for the planners and edit-as-you-go authors, I think a rewrite before polish and submission is critical.

Here’s why. Nuance. Those little tie ins, the ping-back, the loop-in where something discovered at the end of the story can be foreshadowed or hinted at in the beginning of the book.

A rewrite allows you to tighten prose, to tweak character. It allows you to punch up dialog. Get rid of trite exchanges like, “Hey, how are you?” “Fine, you?”

A rewrite allows you to dig deep and ponder word choices where a first pass, or edit as you go, may not because you’re still discovering the story.

At the rewrite stage, the story is fully realized. You know where it’s going. You know what works and what doesn’t. Maybe something you thought was going to work in the beginning as a plot point never played out in the end and now you’re free to rewrite and make adjustments.

Take any college football team on a given Saturday. They hit the field with a game plan. But as soon as the first “hut-hut” is called, all the planning is subject to change based on what the opponent brings to the field.

At half time, the players and coaches go into the locker room and make adjustments. This is good news for the fans of the losing team. They pray, hope, believe their team will come out with a winning strategy for the second half.

When my team is losing, I’m so comforted when my husband says, “They’ll go in the locker room and make adjustments.”

Do you have a writing locker room? Are you free to go in and make adjustments?

As authors, we should be intuitive to our own stories. We should know what makes our story ping and sing. But we should also be aware of what needs to be changed. Open to what needs to be changed.

We should be keen to eliminate backstory dumps, slow or no-tension scenes. We should know when we are writing in circles just trying to discover the story.

Many, many times, rewriting is the very thing that shines the “light of truth” on our weaknesses. Not that we don’t need a skilled editor, we do! But learn to recognize where your story is weak and attack it in the rewrite.

Nothing is sacred in the rewrite.

Back to our football team. What if, at half time, they went into the locker room and said, “Coach, we’re getting killed on the short pass out to the flat.”

But coach said, “I spent all week designing that play. I love it. It’s so pretty when it does work. And it works well unless the quarterback is sacked and on his back looking, up at a defender.”

Would that make any sense at all? No! That coach wouldn’t be coaching for long.

Writers, if something isn’t working in your story, if the pace is slowed by your verbose prose, or retelling of the same plot point for three points of view, or from chapter to chapter, over and over, cut it. Time to change the play!

Rewrite gives you an opportunity to take a second look. To pick up the pace. To trim. Or in my case, add emotion and coloring.

Even if you edit as you go, and it works for you, take time to do one last pass through your story with a “rewrite” in mind.

Is every scene effective?

Is it powerful?

Does it move the story forward?

Does it illicit emotion?

Does it reveal something new?

Am I over telling? Over writing?

Is there too much internal dialgo?

Can you add symbolism?

Can you add foreshadowing?

Can you add metaphor?

This my friends, is the power of a rewrite. Embrace it. J

 

Happy Holidays! And keep writing.

***

OUPBest-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story.

With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel.

A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 15 novels.

She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her next book, Once Upon A Prince, releases May 7!

Go forth and write!

Do you need help with your story idea, synopsis or proposal? How about some one-on-one craft coaching. Check out our menu of services designed to help you advance your writing dreams.

Memorialize Your Accomplishments, Part 4: Celebrate Your Dreams

I know, that sounds almost counterintuitive but that’s not the case at all. Every person reading this has a dream. Congratulations. It is rare that anyone ever stumbles into success without having a dream. In fact, I’ve never heard of it.

Sadly, there is an overwhelming number of people in the world who exist through each day without any sort of direction, goals or dreams. They wake up one day—usually when it’s too late—and discover they forgot to live life. They have nothing to show for it.

But that’s not you. You have a dream and one of the greatest ways to memorialize your accomplishments is by celebrating them. It’s the achievement yet to come, something to look forward to and to strive for. Each step you take toward the fulfillment of your dream is its own success and is worth having a party for!

Dream of being a published author? Awesome! Buy yourself a gift. Get yourself a designer journal or go out with a friend for a latte. While you’re at it, you can take the opportunity to share your plans with that person who believes in you.

So why is this so important? For the same reason it is critical to lay every brick in building a home. The dream home comes together by laying one single brick at a time. Your dreams are the bricks that your future accomplishments are made of.

Here’s the cool thing. When you have a dream, it lays a brick. When you celebrate, another goes on. When you share your dream, another brick or two is stacked. And, when you act on it, oh my, you get the picture.

The fond memories of your accomplishments in life are what gives you the energy and the courage to keep going. To get up again tomorrow and try again. To boldly go where you’ve never gone before.

You can have fond memories of your dreams as well. Don’t believe me? Think back when you were seven. You know, when you dreamed of being a fireman or a princess. Doesn’t it bring a smile?

I urge you to celebrate your dreams. They really are amazing. So are you.

So what are your dreams? Have you celebrated them? Share it here!

 

Denim2Reba J. Hoffman, PhD, is the Member Care Coach at My Book Therapy. She holds a PhD in Clinical Counseling and is the Founder of Magellan Life Coaching. She is the author of Dare to Dream, A Writer’s Journal, published by MBT. Her inspirational writing appears in Running for the Woman’s Soul by Road Runner Sports, and The Good Fight by Donna Hicken. You can connect with her at www.rebajhoffman.com.

The Next Step: Writing & Family Obligations, Quick Meal Ideas

Do you ever find yourself lost in the world of your wip only to hear the call of your family obligations?  You know, simple things like picking up your kids from school and dinner?

I do. I’ve been revising my fast draft and it’s been quite a challenge with end of school year activities.

While my characters were going through great emotional angst, my kids were going through abandonment issues.

“Mom, where are you? Are you picking us up?”

Hmmm.  This was not good.

Praise God I only live 10 minutes away, but still.

When kids get home, what’s the first question you hear?

“What’s there to eat?”

While I can be pretty inventive when I need to be, I’m no magician.

So how do you solve this?

Plan.  On every trip to the grocery store stock up on at least two meals for those moments when you just don’t have the time to cook. This way when you are racing through your wip, you won’t have to stop for long.

Here are some options for quick meals.  These meals are so easy my ten-year-old daughter makes them.

Ravioli

2 Packages Frozen Ravioli (1 Cheese, 1 Beef)

1 Bottle Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti seasoning to taste

Follow the directions on the back of the package to cook the ravioli.

Simultaneously heat the spaghetti sauce, adding seasoning to taste.

Let simmer for about 10 minutes.

Then add the ravioli, mix into the sauce and serve.

Serve with salad and garlic bread.

 

Meatball Sandwiches

Frozen meatballs from the frozen section in your local grocery store. They have turkey and beef.  Choose whichever you like the best.

1 pkg. Frozen Meatballs

1 bottle Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti seasoning to taste

1 pkg. French bread or sub bread

1 pkg. Mozzarella Cheese (about 2 cups)

Cook the meatballs according to the package directions.

Simultaneously heat the spaghetti sauce, adding seasoning to taste.

Heat oven to 375. Spray a pan with Pam.

Cut the sub bread open lengthwise

Add the cooked meatballs to the bread.

Pour spaghetti sauce over the meatballs and then layer mozzarella cheese over the sauce.

Place the tray into the oven until the cheese melts.

What about you, what are some of your favorite time-saving meals and how do you balance writing and family obligations?

***

A romance novel addict, Alena juggles life in the family business while mothering four zany kids. She ponders the beginning aspects of a writer’s life while enjoying real life with her family.

 

Memorialize Your Accomplishments, Part 3: Write it Down!

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Yet, most people I know never pick up pen and paper to record any of the things that happen to them. It seems I rarely meet someone in today’s world who keeps a journal, and yet, it is so critical.

Here’s the rub. No matter how exciting or rewarding the event, it’s highly unlikely you’ll remember that accomplishment ten years from now. When it’s happening, you believe you will. After all, at the moment you experience it, you’re at the height of emotion. No way you’ll ever forget it, right? Wrong!

Here’s a test. Imagine the last time you were around one of your aunts or uncles after a long separation. Most likely they said something like, “Oh little Becky, do you remember when you made me those snowflakes out of aluminum foil? They were so sparkly.”

Did you remember making those snowflakes? Probably not, and yet at the moment, they were such an incredible artistic accomplishment.

In your life today, days are zipping by at breakneck speed. There’s no way you can take it all in, then recall it at the precise moment you’re searching for something that will encourage you. And, at that instant, being able to pull up the memory could mean the difference between success and failure.

That’s why you really must write it down. Every accomplishment, no matter how big or small, should get into your journal. I promise you, there will be a day when you’ll desperately need to thumb through its pages.

When I recommend journaling, the most frequently asked question is whether it has to be a physical one. I used to say yes. Today, although I still believe the act of sitting and writing by hand is the most beneficial, whatever method that will actually result in your journaling is what I recommend.

Your entry doesn’t have to be long and drawn out. You’re not writing a novel, but you will want to capture enough of the event to place you back in that day when you read the entry.

As writers, we feel emotion on a deeper level. In the moment when you’re feeling discouraged, depressed, you need something that will bring you out of it. Reading through your accomplishments in your journal is a perfect way to self-medicate when life is overwhelming.

Please do yourself, your friends and family, and your readers a favor and memorialize your accomplishments by writing it down! The world will be a better place and you’ll be a much happier person.

Do you journal? Why or why not? Share it here!

Denim2

Reba J. Hoffman, PhD, is the Member Care Coach at My Book Therapy. She holds a PhD in Clinical Counseling and is the Founder of Magellan Life Coaching. She is the author of Dare to Dream, A Writer’s Journal, published by MBT. Her inspirational writing appears in Running for the Woman’s Soul by Road Runner Sports, and The Good Fight by Donna Hicken. You can connect with her at www.rebajhoffman.com.