Tag Archives: Book (Re)Writing

Book (Re)Writing – From Rewriting to Writing

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This will be the last blog post (maybe forever or maybe just for a while) in my blog series ‘Book (Re)Writing’ purely because I have finally moved beyond the stage where I am simply considering a re-write of my book ‘From the Ashes’ to actually being at the point of writing it again.

When I first conceived this blog series, I called it (Re)Writing because I was personally torn between whether I needed to do a rewrite, or whether I was going to have to write the book again. In my mind there is a difference and I kept it vague using the brackets so that I didn’t confine myself to one or the other. I have finally come to the conclusion that what I have to do is the latter.

I think it will have been obvious to anyone who has read the entire series, that this blog about writing have been markedly different from one of my previous series about writing, ‘The Key to a Great Story‘, which was more technical. ‘Book (Re)Writing‘ has been a great deal more personal, a way of making myself accountable in what I’ve been doing in the process of approaching a rewrite.

It has even become a way of sharing that the processes of writing and being a writer is not easy. Also a way for anyone who might have similar problems to know that they are not alone. On an even more personal level it has been therapeutic for me to share my feelings about my novel rather than bottle them up.

However, I am currently at a very good place because I have finally figured out that it isn’t a re-write in the sense that I’m working on what currently exists and doing a major edit. I have to write the book again from scratch. To me that means I am writing my book, not rewriting it. Some may quibble that definition; let me explain.

One of the key reasons why I have come to this conclusion is because I have finally managed to clear my head and work through my feelings about my book well enough  to write up a new outline for my book. I’ve spoken about doing an outline of what was already existing and I’ve spoken about writing an overall plan for my series, but until now that was all focused on figuring out what was wrong.

I’ve done that, and I’ve now moved onto the new step. A new outline for the book and what has resulted is that I’m writing a new book. I’m not rewriting the one that already exists; the plot is different, some of the characters are going to be refined and I think that I may literally have one scene that will play out in exactly the same way.

The title will be the same, the characters will be mostly the same, but it is going to be a different book. It is going to lead to a different place. There will be major plot points that now are going to end up discarded entirely (though potentially recycled elsewhere) and I have even made the rather major decision to write it in the third person rather than in the first.

That last one for me is the most important reason why I’m now defining what I have to do as writing not re-writing. I am a massive advocate of using first person, but in order to pull off the story I want to tell, for the moment (I might change my mind) I’m going to change the perspective. For me this is all new.

There is another underlying reason, and it is very much a personal opinion on what doing a rewrite means. I associate the idea of editing as something that needs to be done in order to polish work, it is a positive and necessary part of the writing process. Rewriting though has come to mean something incredibly negative; in my mind having to do a rewrite is an indication that I’ve failed as a writer.

I will hold up my hands and admit I am not a positive person. I can be positive about things, but I am a pessimist and I view rewriting as the ultimate failure. I advocate that the first draft (and possibly the second draft) will be shoddy. Rewriting a new draft though doesn’t mean that the glass was just half-empty, it means to me that I missed the glass, the bench and I poured my story on the floor. I did say pessimist.

So for now I’m venturing into the very positive territory of writing my book. Given I’ve just identified as a pessimist, I genuinely don’t mean that sentence sarcastically at all.

I love writing. I love being a writer. The prospect of writing my book ‘From the Ashes’ is an exciting and positive step, because it gives me the opportunity to do it better and to do justice to my characters.

So I probably won’t be writing for ‘Book (Re)Writing’ again, though I’ll never say never, because I don’t know whether I’ll need to, or what I could contribute for the moment, but all I will say is thank you for everyone whose given me support in the process of this journey.

And if anyone is interested in how the writing is going, I’ll tweet about it (@kabrown4).

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Book (Re)Writing – Fear, Distraction and Depression

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Well my last post on Book (Re)Writing was a lovely and positive post about having written out The Grand Plan. I actually made progress.

As usual the life of a writer is not as simple as that – for a kick off my mental health doesn’t always align with the progress that I’m making. Sometimes I make a step forward and my depression kicks me back beyond square one. Or so it feels. It has been a bad month or so, because of factors outside of my writing (mainly my job being stressful at the moment). This has not really been very useful in me making progress.

I am making the effort to really look after myself though (after a having hit a bit of a rock bottom yesterday – I’ve had worse bumps but it was a wake up call). I’m even planning on trying to make more of an effort use writing as part of looking after my well-being.

Leaving only two things stand in my way – Fear and Distraction

We’ll start with fear – I wrote the Grand Plan for my novels, and scared the hell out of myself. I know that I naturally think big, but until I have put it down on paper I had never realised the scale of my plans. Good grief I’m honestly punishing myself with the prospect of trying to pull off The Grand Plan.

I’m going to actually have to look at my plan and then make a list of novels entitled ‘I definitely have to write this within my lifetime’. Once I know that I can move onto outlining with a bit more detail.

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That isn’t the only fear though – a long time ago when I first started this blog, I wrote about the inspiration behind the name of my blog in ‘The Inner Fear‘ a blog post I later re-wrote two years later. Fear that I am not competent enough to even pull this off, and after the bruises that a beta reader left me with (which inspired this entire blog series in the first place) my confidence in my abilities (coupled with the doubt that depression whispers/shouts at you – yay depression! Yeah you can just screw off) hasn’t really been all that high at the moment.

I am afraid that I can’t write well enough for my characters.

This has lead to Distraction (read procrastination in some cases).

Let’s put it this way my mother has been trying to teach me how to knit since before my tenth birthday. While I’m an intermediate border-lining advanced crocheter, I’ve never really been able to knit.

I’ve since solved that as a distraction from my  writing – I can now knit. I’m confident enough to follow patterns, do shaping, knit cables, and I’ve even had a go at lace knitting.

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I’ve let myself be distracted by television – I’ve even joined Netflix at last to distract myself as much as possible.

I’ve let myself get distracted by twitter. Nothing is better than five minutes of reading tweets at the minute.

I’ve let myself get distracted by learning other languages – Mandarin via an evening class, and German and Italian via Duolingo. Usually I only do one of those at a time; nope three at the minute because the alternative is writing.

I’ve even let myself get distracted from this writing by thinking about other writing instead. Nothing makes my ideas for screenwriting work out better than me actually wanting to work on my novels. Just thinking though, I haven’t even made notes.

I am definitely an advanced procrastinator.I’m honestly surprised I haven’t signed up to do another degree in order to distract myself (not the entire reason why I have an MA, but certainly part of the reason.)

So writing recently has definitely not been going well of late. But I know why, and I’m willing to admit why to more than just myself. I have all my fingers crossed that the progress I had made can now start to go forward again.

Book (Re)Writing – The Grand Plan

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I don’t think small.

In many, many ways the fact that I cannot think in small terms is one of my biggest faults as a writer; I find it impossible to write a short story that doesn’t develop into a novel because I just do not know how to stop myself.

However, as a person it is something that I do take a great deal of pride in. I’m not someone who follows the ideas of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to the letter, and you’re not supposed to, it is a guideline, and each personality type themselves has a broad spectrum of differences within it.

For years though I thought that because I couldn’t think on small terms, it was a character fault because my brain would literally run away from the small idea that I really needed to think about and onto something vastly bigger than it was meant to be. On getting to know my MBTI type, which is INTJ, being a visual master planner is what my personality type is all about. I don’t think small, I have a complex imagination that can draw up master plans and implement them, down to the smallest detail.

For years I have been setting myself the same resolution at the beginning of each year. Draw up a grand plan for the books you intend to write.

And I sort of did – I drew up a list of books I planned on writing, a short summary, and there I had it a ‘grand plan’.

Cue Rocket the Racoon and his belly laugh.

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I didn’t have a plan; I kidded myself into thinking I had a plan and then just got on with writing, which is what I wanted to be doing.

And this is how I have ended up in the mess that I’m in now, because I didn’t follow what is actually my greatest strength – I had a bit of a plan, but because for years outlining a story felt like I was killing creativity that seat of my plans writing could bring to me I resisted.

So admittedly, all I have done so far is make a list of books I want to write, but I’m not stopping there. Since I’ve been writing this blog series, I have been doing quite a bit of thinking and I’m going to use that thinking to write a plan first, and then re-write the book.

I’m not entirely sure how it’s actually taken me this long to come to this conclusion. Drawing up the plan first, properly detailed plans is how Terry Brook’s, an author I admire a great deal, describes how he plans his novels in ‘Sometime’s the Magic Works’. He’s successful, and like me he writes high fantasy series that spans centuries in the same story world.

Honestly how I’ve managed to ignore his advice for all these years is beyond me – but then again a lot of people share Stephen King’s advice of write at least X number of pages every single day, so maybe it wasn’t as difficult as you would imagine, and the guilt that comes from not doing that occasionally hits me, but not as often any more.

So, write a grand plan, or a plan, or at least have more than a vague idea of how you are going to get from the beginning of your story to the end, and I recommend the ‘But…Therefore’ method of plotting.

Now brain focus…

Book (Re) Writing – The First Chapter

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When I had been more enthusiastic about re-writing my book and started this blog series, I’d had the rough plan that what I was going to do was follow the basic outline that I had followed with my Key to a Great Story series – who, what, where, when, why and how. Easy enough so I thought.

I focused on ‘What’ first, i.e. plot, and made some comments on how I lost the plot, and how I had been inspired to use the ‘But…Therefore’ method of plotting.

However, what instigated me to re-write the book in the first place was because of a comment from a beta reader, who didn’t like my characters and wasn’t sure about the details surrounding my story world.

Being incredibly close to my story, made it very hard to see what they were talking about – however I didn’t just ignore the comments, I did do something about it. I reflected on the plot and the complexity of the characters and the story world I have created, which I talked about in my previous posts.

However, at that time which was eight months or so ago, (how I’m not sure and it doesn’t feel like that long ago), I also did something else. I went beyond the simple breakdown of the entire book.

I did a detailed breakdown of the first chapter – the chapter I have always used when sending out my work to competitions, the one chapter that in truth I have barely changed since I first wrote it. I’ve spoken a lot about how I added things to ‘From the Ashes’ over the years to make the sequels work. One of the few things I have never changed though is the first few chapters.

And what did I find in my first chapter – a mess. A mess of details that I understand fully, but that a reader would never truly grasp until near the end of the book.

And doing that is what broke me – it inspired me to write Take a Break, and it is the reason behind my torment in Tougher than I Thought.

Because what I discovered in my first chapter is that I had followed the advice of jumping straight into the middle of a plot a little to literally – the book hits the ground running, and it has little to no context.

In the first chapter I introduce seven characters, two of them the main characters, two of whom die, two of whom disappear until halfway into the book when they come back again, and the last in the final paragraph of the chapter, who is a main supporting character.

I also refer to three different countries in the first chapter; some are mentioned as a whole, some are further broken down by province, some towns and cities are mentioned, and some of these countries are introduced by referring to the languages that are spoken in my multilingual world.

In terms of plot, there are references made to eight major plot lines that form as part of the meeting that takes place in the first chapter, plus an additional seven sub-plots that are either minor references to connections between characters you haven’t met yet, or are there to be developed in the long term and become main plots.

And then there are the references to the magical system integral to the entire story – references to the elements, references when Magi die, wand less magic, telekinetic magic, references to magic being used as a mental connection and also therefore the magic that blocks it; references to offensive and defensive magic; references to healing and references as to how magic can be used to travel.

Honestly, I cried.

Baring in mind this all happens in less than five thousand words, and instead of a first chapter, what I have instead is a kitchen sink. A dirty one, covered in layers of grease and mould, stacked with dishes, some clean, some used.

Doing this, is what made me grieve for my book. It is what has made me run an hide away from my writing. It is what has made me convince myself that I’m really actually quite deluded in thinking that I’m a decent-ish writer – at least good enough to be published.

All because of the first chapter, which is a fair reflection of the rest of the book as well.

I started Book (Re) Writing because I wanted to my myself accountable to the world and also to help others to not feel alone when they are writing their books.

Writing is hard work. Do not ever let anyone tell you otherwise. But please be assured, you are not alone.

So the point of this post you ask? Very much for me to make myself accountable to the world – I have admitted that I needed to re-write my book to you already. I even hinted as to why.

That’s not making myself properly accountable though – reading the first chapter of my book objectively for the first time broke me, and I’ve been running away from it ever since.

The point of this post, is for me to say to myself ‘Stop running away, fix your problems and become a writer.’

Book (Re)Writing – Re-Discover Inspiration

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I wrote recently about finding the re-writing process of my book a lot tougher than I had imagined. I hadn’t been sure at the time really how to motivate myself again. It’s been pure chance that has re-inspired me, by re-discovering what inspired me in the first place.

It’s quite simple advice really for any time you get stuck writing, go back to the first idea you had, and try to remember why you found it so necessary to develop the idea further. Was it a particular character fault you wanted to develop? Was it a scene that you just knew would make a good story?

Go back to the simplest moment of your writing; the initial inspiration and see if that re-sparks your imagination and motivation.

What was mine you ask? That’s complicated because for me is isn’t a character or a plot that I had thought of that inspired my story, it was another writer and the world they created.

Let’s just say J.K. Rowling’s expansion of the Harry Potter universe this year, which for me started my going to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, followed by pretty much nose diving into the screenplay, and then finally getting around to picking up my copy of the Cursed Child has reminded me why I love to write. I know some fans aren’t happy about the expansion of the Harry Potter Universe – I am not one of them, because it has re-sparked my writing.

So if going back to the original idea you had doesn’t work, then go and find something out there you know you love and enjoy it. That might re-inspire you and if it doesn’t then at least be content in the knowledge you’ve devoted a couple of hours to something you love.

Book (Re)Writing – Tougher than I Thought

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Since writing my last post on re-writing a book, Take a Break, I have done exactly that, and I have taken a break from writing. Now while I still support the advice from that post, I will admit, that if you want to be a writer it cannot be a permanent break.

And I will honestly admit that I am on the dangerous path of never going back to writing my book.

I’ve just sat and re-read my posts on re-writing my book, and it brought back all the feelings of absolute and utter anguish of having to essentially start from scratch – none of which I think I have fully admitted to anybody. I’ve used the words heartbroken, but I’ve been heartbroken in the past, and this isn’t what being heartbroken feels like.

I feel bereaved; not the harsh pain felt at first, but the ever ebbing underlying feeling of loss that never goes away and surfaces occasionally, usually out of nowhere, to remind you that life as you once knew cannot ever be the same again.

I feel like that about my writing at the moment – I’m grief stricken that the book I’ve written and the characters I’ve created will never be known to the world in the way that I had originally conceived. And grief for me has always been an underlying cause for my problems with depression, which is not a great realization to have had.

I’ve had a tough year with my writing that started with Admitting the Truth, and has even included me losing my passion for reading after I’d tried to read a book that had completely destroyed any desire I had to read a book.

Admittedly getting married, buying a house and completely changing my job has been stressful (especially because I did all three at the same time), but that has all contributed to my happiness and well-being this year. Events in the wider world haven’t exactly been cheery, but I learnt a long time ago the world is not a perfect place. I have been helped with therapy to develop coping skills for bereavement and have healthy relationships with my memories of the people I have lost. Generally I am very happy at the moment and have been for a good long while – after ten years of recurrent depression I’m relishing it.

However, the desire to write has just been utterly destroyed, with the occasional harsh reminder when people I’ve known for years, but don’t see often, ask me how it’s going, knowing writing is something I have been keenly passionate about. It only to a few though I admit I’m not at the moment, but never the entire truth as to why.

I know from experience that learning what the problem is helps me to resolve it, but I started this blog series (Book (Re)Writing) with a lot more enthusiasm than I have at the moment.

This blog series is about making myself accountable in rewriting my book and sharing my experience of having to do it and what I’ve learnt is that it is a lot tougher to do that I had originally envisioned.

If anyone tells you that writing is an easy job, direct them here, because I’ve worked my way through office jobs with depression. I’m not depressed at the moment, but having some pretty tough feelings to deal with at the moment has made writing through them harder than I had imagined.

Book (Re)Writing – Take a Break

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It’s been a while since I wrote about Book (Re) Writing, and I haven’t been publishing much on other things on my blog either, and to be honest it is very much because my life has been utterly insane recently. I’ve actually just been taking a break from writing entirely.

*Cue the collective gasp of the internet’s writing community.*

I’ve been reading everywhere on the internet for the majority of my life that writer’s should always try and write every single day no matter how stressed/blocked/busy you are; advice that stems a lot from the wisdom of Stephen King. If you finished one draft put it aside and start on a new project before returning to a project for editing. But write every single day!

Well I’m sorry but sometimes real life doesn’t afford you that luxury.

I call myself a writer, but it is not my profession – it doesn’t pay my bills (yet), my brand new job does that; nor is writing my partner of ten years (whose recently added ‘husband’ to his description) who does like to spend time with me; nor is writing the new house and the wonderful tour of Europe that was our Honeymoon that has taken up all of my spare time and brain space recently.

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Crochet is my only other creative hobby I’ve been actively pursuing recently, purely for the very fact it doesn’t require me to think too hard. I’ve been able to finish projects like the Ice Scales Scarf which I have been working on for months.  I can use crochet as part of my nightly unwind process. If I write in that time, the inner Night Owl wakes up and my brain will whirl for the precious hours I have set aside to sleep.

And all of this has actively made me feel intensely guilty – because I am not writing every single day like you’re supposed to. Well I was feeling guilty until my brain eventually piped up and said-

“You’ve ignored and even debunked advice you’ve read on the internet about writing before, why the hell are you paying attention to this?”

Thank you brain for speaking up and ridding me of that guilt. At the moment I can’t write every day, or even just every week at the minute, and you might be the same. So I’ve taken a break from my project.

And it has been wonderful.

I am an advocate of working on the project until it is finished and leaving it for a while. If you’re able to work on another project in the interim that’s great, and is one of the points I do wish to make in this post – you do need to Take a Break from working on your projects, whether you are working on the first draft or are editing you’re project.

You should then either go an work on an unrelated project, or just rest, but don’t go back too soon to the project you’re working on. You need space and recovery time. You need to make you’re brain a bit of the blank page in relation to your project so that you can return to it objectively. I get emotionally connected to my stories – I need to break that connection. Clean slate – writing something else helps.

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Sometimes the limits of real life and available brain space though does mean you can’t write though. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about that.

And you want to know why I think it’s wonderful: because letting go of the guilt and just living means my brain occasionally comes up with a really brilliant idea. Not thinking about writing, and not making it a chore has actually unlocked some really good ideas I’ve had in the past which I had dismissed or written out a few drafts ago. And new ideas as well.

I have to do a major rewrite of my book (as in I think I need to just start entirely again from scratch) and ‘not writing’ has actually been the best thing I could do, because it means I can do thinking instead. Not thinking and planning, has been my downfall in the past.

So yes you definitely need to take a break from your project, and sometimes despite what the collective wisdom of the internet says, you just need to take a break from writing entirely.