Retyping as a form of rewriting

“I don’t write, Tony. I type.” — McGee in Cover Story

It sounds like a crazy distinction (unless you’re looking for typewriter ribbon to stalk your favorite writer) but there’s some validity to it. This weekend, I’m typing.

Literally, though not on a typewriter. I’m not that much of a McGeek. 😉 I realized yesterday afternoon that I was stalling out because in order for the story to work, I have to kill a character I love. Jesse and GaryG get some credit for the lightbulb moment, since it was the combined Swan Song/Pyramid previews that got the bunnies headed in the right direction. Combine that realization with everything else in the soup pot and I have a lot of reworking to do of what I have existing. So I decided the most logical thing was to start with a blank page. Literally. I printed out all 60 single-spaced pages of the existing draft. Now I’m sitting down with them and working my way through, typing them back into a new file, revising as I go. No cutting and pasting, no editing on screen. Since I have about 30,000 words so far, it’s going to take a few days, even working mostly on this. But it seems like the most effective way to keep what I can, toss what’s no longer part of the story and revise the sections that need tweaking.

The change in focus ties together all the story threads. It also dramatically overhauls the relationship among the three main characters, as well as how the secondary characters fit into the puzzle. The pacing and structure of events in the story change, as does the underlying theme. (For the record, writing so much NCIS fanfic has apparently put my brain in “daddy issues” mode when writing original characters.) The whole thing feels much more cohesive, and it handles Kyrie’s biggest concern about the overall story. It also buys me more space to develop some things early on because of how the story now unfolds. I’m now hoping to finish the full draft by the end of my birthday weekend – yes I have weird ideas of how to celebrate my birthday – then let it sit during June. By the time I get back from the wedding, I should have enough mental distance to start working on revisions. Also, I think this will get this draft into the kind of shape where Kyrie can have at it during June. 🙂

My new timeline for this is first draft finished by the end of May. Spend July and August revising and rewriting, then hopefully start sending it out to agents in the fall. We’ll see how that shapes up.

In other writing news, this next LFWS round prompt is drabble — a true drabble — which was an interesting challenge. I’m not a fan of drabbles, as seems obvious looking at what I do write. 🙂 But I not only came up with one I really like (and Kyrie, also not a drabble fan, really likes), but it involved my one squick on fanfic. No details until I post after voting ends, but it’s something I never thought I’d write. Beyond the topic, though, working with such a tight constraint on form pushed me to really spend time editing and polishing the drabble, and I’d forgotten how much that can improve things. One reason I’m taking the approach I am with the novel is because I want to spend some serious time, probably most of August, with a draft that’s ready for that level of detailed editing so I can give all 90K words the same attention those 100 words got Thursday night.

To practice, I’m going to really focus on my line-editing at work. Some days I’m so swamped trying to edit copy that I do the basics, but don’t really dig into it. My goal going forward is to really dig into the line-editing and polishing to both help my co-workers and do my job better, and to build those editing muscles for the marathon that this project will require.