I don’t usually talk about rewrites.
Why is this? It couldn’t possibly be because I HAVE A HORRIBLE HABIT OF NOT POLISHING WHAT I START, could it?
No, of course not. I am a wonderful example of everything a writer should aspire to be.
I’m currently rewriting a book I wrote in 2013: called Six.
It’s YA sci-fi: about friends who hate each other (typical) and slavery and boxing and Greek planets and tzatziki dip and crackers. (Which you should admire me for, because you know how much I’ve struggled with spelling the word “tzatziki”? It goes against all logic and yet there it is: yogurty and cucumber Greek deliciousness.)
This time last year (12 of June in 2013, I might add, which is very weird that I felt like writing this post now) I wrote a post about how I go about writing a 1st draft. It’s only fair that 2nd drafting gets a post, right?
How Cait writes 2nd Drafts
Step 1: Decide which book is getting beheaded.
This is harder than it sounds! I really wish I could write and rewrite depending on what I’m passionate about — but if I did that? I’d never finish anything. I pick a book. I stick with it. Even if we get 50% in and hate each other.
Six got picked because it’s the book I had the most fun writing. I also based the annoying side-kick off Mime, so I want it to be tidy so she can read it. (Ha! I’m kidding, Mime! Don’t freak out!)
Step 2: Make a goal.
I like goals. I like the shattering sound they make as I overtake them. I’m a little bit of an over-achiever at times, so I make my goals reasonable — so I can pass them.
My goal for rewriting Six is: 1 chapter every. single. day.
That’s crazily hard, actually. What about weekends? What about Mondays? Agh, who likes Mondays?!
Step 3: DO NOT WRITE FAST. DO NOT COLLECT $200 DOLLARS. WRITE SLOW OR GO TO JAIL.
This is hard. This is really, really, really, really hard.
I write a 1st draft in 2 weeks. 5K a day. Party in my brain. Woot, woot. But for 2nd drafts? It’s about being careful which means being painfully sloooooow. I put myself on fast-mode-ban. NO SPEEDING.
This has negative side effects like: “when will I be finished this stupid story already?” and “how did the book start again?” I do have a memory like swiss cheese. (But it makes rereading my own books fun because I get to go, “Oh! That was a good plot twist, didn’t see that coming.” And I’ll be entirely honest with myself while saying that.)
Step 4: Sticky notes. Sticky notes everywhere.
Most of my sticky notes are stuck on my the home screen of my Mac (I love the stick note feature). A lot of them look like this:
This is how I combat my bad memory. Notes on who’s who and what’s what and if anyone needs a hi-five in the face with a chair (can’t miss opportunities like that). Also, because my planets are based of Greek things, I have a list of Greek words that I use.
Like: Coffee = kafés
That is awesome knowledge.
Which brings me to…
Step 5: Have a whole beautiful document for research!
Research! Yay! I hate research. There are reasons I write fantasy, you know. If you mess up on the research part, you can still show your face in public. Not that I go out in public all that much, but you get the idea.
Six used to rely very heavily on ancient Rome, but SOMEONE SLAP ME if I ever write a book that resembles The Hunger Games. I refuse. While Six is nothing like The Hunger Games (no one even likes each other in this book) I wanted to cut out all things Rome.
How to make it different?
– I used Greek culture to build my planets.
– I changed gladiator style fighting to ancient boxing (called “pyx” in Greek, I’ll have you know. What? You can’t research all this stuff and not SHARE it!)
– Do you know how violent ancient Greek boxing is?
– Heck! They didn’t have boxing gloves, obviously, but they wrapped their fists in spiked leather. That’s not even nice. It’s really really mean, actually.
Currently my “research doc” is 5,000-words of research. A lot of it is copy-and-pasted information about Ancient Greek Boxing from the Internet. A lot of it is me filching names from famous Greek philosophers. (“Sappho” is an awesome name.)
Step 6: Save old book. Then re-type every. single. sentence.
This is how I do 2nd drafts, peoples! My screen looks like this:
Except, you know, zoomed in and with 1-page on the screen not 4.
I turn the entire manuscript red and then start again in black. I delete the red sentences as I work through them.
It’s very advanced, this method. I like to call it: The Cait Doesn’t Know What She’s Doing Method. I hear it’s quite popular in my house.
I also add when I’m drafting. Six was 60,000-words and I’d love to get it to 70,000. But in probability? It’ll probably be just under. I’m totally fine with that! I like thin books!
Step 7: Fret.
Fretting and worrying and moaning and crying are all huge parts of my 2nd draft process. I like to beat myself over the head with these helpful questions:
– am I deleting the wrong scenes?
– is this even funny?
– are they eating enough/too much?
– is this even funny?
– is it just me or is this guy freakishly annoying?
– axe him.
– oh gosh, what if I shouldn’t have axed him?
– what if I never think up a better title and it must stay dorky “Six” forever?!!
Basically I’m all angst and worry and self-doubt and it’s a glorious party. I highly enjoy it of course.
Step 8: Lie about everything else.
I’m of the opinion that writers are professional liars.
That’s it right there. Summed up quite well!
I’m a professional liar.
If I hit a problem in my draft…I lie about it. I lie confidentially and no one will ever know the different.
(But I also get critique partners and test my lies out on them, and if they wrinkle their noses or [please no] call me Pinnochio, then I fix the lie so it’s worse-and-therefore-better.)
Step 9: Location, location.
I’m sure you imagine me sitting at a very nice desk, swivelling on my office chair, because I’m 1/3 of the way to being a Real Live Author (as opposed to a Real Dead Author I guess). But a) it’s cold, and b) I have a very comfy bed to sit on.
Or else, because my room is a regular freezer in winter, I sneak into Mime’s room. Mime has a huge bed and a sunny window and once I toss her useless stuff around and make way for me, it’s perfect. She doesn’t even notice! (I think.)
Although she does accuse me of hiding her fingerless gloves, but that’s ridiculous. I would never.
Step 10: Invent 62 million NEW story ideas in head.
There’s nothing like rewriting for getting me inspired for other books. Since starting Six, I’ve had 8 new story ideas. Most are just premises, but a few have plots, characters, the works.
This is incredibly unfair. WHY CAN’T THESE IDEAS COME LATER? Mid-project? No. Go away. I have no time. After-project? Why yes, I’ll welcome them with open arms.
Of course, by that time, they’re just sad little sentences on my iPod that no longer wish to share their magic with me.
Well, there you have it. All my 2nd draft secrets are spilt.
This is just rewriting though, not editing. My editing process is similar (but less typing and more chocolate).
And because it amuses me, although I am easily amused I admit: I will most likely be interviewing one of the characters from Six for my post on the Beautiful People linkup. (Which is open until the end of the month if you want to still link up!)
Cait has an Apple. She hoped you noticed. It is a delightful Apple with knowledge and skills far beyond her previous PC. But since she has greasy little fingers, she bought an orange casing for it. So, no matter what anyone tells you: you CAN look good in prison orange. She’s currently reading AS STARS FALL.