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I’ve been honored to be able to share posts from Guest Authors during the past three weeks. I’d like to continue to share voices of published and aspiring writers, poets, and screenwriters that I’m meeting along my journey. Their posts are always available in the GuestAuthors section of my blog, and for your further enjoyment, their blogs are listed to the left under Reader’s Choice. Please give them a visit. This week, one of mine…

Finally! I’m revising the story that is becoming Sparks. To prepare, I took all the steps I knew to take – got a wonderfully thorough editorial critique; was brutally honest with myself about my weaknesses and how to correct them; even painstakingly created a rich set of artifacts from which to work. It took me sixteen months to get to this point. Ready at last, and balanced on the point of no return, I executed my most perfect swan dive on the way in. Exhilarating….

Outline, scene notes – check and check. Prologue…first sentence. Whoa…this is deeper than I thought. What the [email protected]!*@?#!

After fighting my way back up to the surface and gasping deeply for air, I recovered enough to take another look. The revelation? I had mistaken editing for rewriting…and many of the scenes in Sparks require rewriting. To get the most out of the rewrite, I must assess each scene for the holy quaternary (goal, obstacle, action, resolution) and story advancement. Just as importantly, I must sharpen the focus of each scene – many times assembling a completely different cast of words. As for the new scenes; they must be of the same construction as the rewritten ones. No first draft wording or sentence structure allowed.

Needless to say, I have a bone to pick with somebody. You know who you are. Somehow Dear Blogger, I missed your post explaining the difference between first draft wording (and sentence structure) and that of the rewrite. For experienced writers, there may not be much difference – rewriting may truly be editing. In my case however, your post could have saved me many strands of hair and a fair few headaches. At least my editor will be spared the same fate. Honestly Dear Blogger, you’ve got to publicize your work. There is such a thing as Twitter, you know. When I do find you, I have a few choice (rewritten) words.

With Dear Blogger missing in action, what was I to do? Panic was an option, but not a fruitful one. So I studied up on rewriting. Then I dove in again. Now I find myself carefully considering – not just each sentence – but each word. Y’all know the drill – does it set scene, reveal character, contribute to the overall mood of the story, et al? Who cares whether I use ‘propensity’ or ‘inclination’ or ‘disposition’? I do. Very much so. The page is my canvas and I find that I’m extremely particular about the colors and brush strokes I’m using to paint.

I bow to all of you published writers, beloved by your readers; especially those who wrote (and write) with pen and paper – or typewriter. No wonder so many of us tend to be half-bent. I’ve stopped counting the number of revisions I make of a sentence – and I’ve just gotten started with the rewrite. The first day, I spent hours trying to describe a fireworks display. When I was done, I had carefully chosen six words. That’s all. Hours of work for six words. This is madness! This is insanity! This is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.


Row80 Update, 4/17/2011:

My first ROW80 session two update post. Last week’s was a tweet. My goal is to make progress on rewriting, but I didn’t specify how much – other than three scenes per week. Good thing. As you can see from the tweet, I put myself in a pickle this week:

  • Goal 1: Three hours per day. Met it this week – and then some because:
  • Goal 2: Last week I did five scenes; this week I did one from my outline, and added a new one. Since it introduced a new theme and character, I then had to ‘silkscreen‘ it into the outline and scene notes. So, eleven scenes down, two hundred and one to go. I know, I know – how could I introduce a new character? It’s true, I confess – the story made me do it.

Enough from me. How y’all doing?

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16 Responses to Where the [email protected]!*@?#! Is It?

  1. Katy Bennett says:

    yay for you, keep at it, scene by scene you are getting there.

  2. CathrynLouis says:

    Thanks Katy. It truly is scene by agonizing scene… 🙂

  3. shelliesakai says:

    Ugh rewrites! As a newbie, I am dreading them. But, I know that they are as inevitable as contractions at the end of pregnancy!

    Just breath in and breath out… 😀

  4. Three hours a day is fabulous!! Keep it up – until next time….

  5. CathrynLouis says:

    Hi Shellie, I’m sure trying to keep my head. Contractions? Omigosh…but the result is worth it 🙂

    Thanks, Tiffany! Sometimes I do miss my television time though.

  6. Haha! I don’t laugh at you, but join in your shock that editing is not the same as rewriting. Man do I remember the pain of that revelation. But at least you know now!

  7. I kind of feel panicky after reading that. I think the entire editing process has traumatised me some. 🙂

    I am in awe of your patience and it’s nice to see it’s possible not to run away screaming from the inevitable. 😉

    It sounds like you’re in your element! Well done on the progress, the time spent will be worth missing some television time for. Good luck next week! 🙂

  8. CathrynLouis says:

    It was truly a shock, Belinda. Why not laugh at me? I am. That was a real duh on my part – thinking rewriting and editing were synonyms. 🙂

    Don’t feel panicky, Claire. If I can do it, anyone can. You’re right though, patience is key. Let’s see what happens next week 😉

  9. This is a difficult task. If you get too addicted to rewriting, you might never think your work is good enough to be published. You have to know where to draw the line, otherwise you will be a rewriteaholic.LOL

  10. CathrynLouis says:

    Absolutely agree! I know it’s time to stop when I read it out loud and it has the right rhythm or cadence. Then on to the next scene… 🙂

  11. Deniz Bevan says:

    You sound like you’re doing well, regardless! Sixteen months, you say? Okay, I don’t feel so badly then. I’ve been editing since about mid-December and every day I think “This writing sucks and this process is never going to end!”

  12. CathrynLouis says:

    Deniz, the 16 months is counting first draft and then the 4 & 1/2 months for the outline and scene layout for each of the 211 scenes – all setup to get to the rewrite part. Don’t know how long that will take. 🙂

    Sounds like you’re doing well. Hang in there – I see a celebration in your future!

  13. Deniz Bevan says:

    Thanks Cathryn! Good luck to you too!

  14. cleemckenzie says:

    I love your goals. Very challenging, but doable. I’ve done some to meet my goals, but have to get busy or revise some of them downward! Good luck.

  15. Editing can be just using Grammerly if you are on third draft. In the second draft it is time to cut any chatty cathy ( as I call myself) that does not lead the narrative directly on target. Who are your best editors? Three hours is great.

  16. CathrynLouis says:

    Thanks, Caroline. I have only worked with one editor, so I don’t have a list. I’m self-editing right now, trying to catch everything I can before I give it back.

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