Well, I'm still very much in the clutches of rewrites.
Yeah, I have been for a while now. And to be honest, I haven't been working on them as much as I should've for most of June.
But it's July now.
So I'm pulling myself out of this whole "writer's drought" issue and getting the rewrites done. I've actually got most of the drudge work done, and now it's actually entering it all into my computer and then bridging the scenes together. Since I've done a ton of rewriting on this book (it's changed a lot throughout its almost-three-year-lifespan), I've pretty much got my method down. It goes something like this:
First, I printed the manuscript out. Slasher -- my neon-pink editing pen, which miraculously hasn't run out of ink -- and I got to spend lots of bonding time, since I need to cut at least 27,000 words from the book. Ideally, I'll cut more (which looks like it's going to be easy enough) so I can go back and bridge the scenes. More on that below.
When I'm cutting words for an overhaul on this scale, I have to look at each individual word, the sentence it goes with, and the paragraph it's part of. If it doesn't have to be there
-- if it doesn't bring something incredibly important to the story -- it bites the dust.
In some chapters, there's more to be scrapped than there is to save. When that's the case, I go through and highlight anything worth keeping. I'll type up all the rest of the edits directly into a document -- there's not enough of the original document left to bother with --, but I'll completely rewrite any chapter I used the highlighting method with. Since I had to pick out threads of paragraphs that could stay, there won't be enough left to salvage anyway.
After I arrange all the chapters in the right places, including the rewrites, I can go through and bridge everything together. I'd cut out plenty of extra words in the first stage, so now I can go through and add some, making transitions smoother and reinserting some of my details. I can't go crazy, of course, but the bridge work makes the writing seem natural again, taking away the stilted sound that the bare-bones version has.
The biggest thing in cutting out words, for me, is that "What does it add to the story?" question. In this way, I find that lots of things, from words to paragraphs and even whole scenes, can be removed. For example, towards the middle, my MC gets generally broken. Another character heals her, but the main thing is that MC gets broken, then healed. By establishing that, I can go back and cut out chunks of details about the healing process, probably even have my MC unconscious or something for most of it. I actually had lots of little moments like this, where I'd written in unimportant pieces instead of just hitting the main idea.
After it's all "done," I can make a draft specifically targeting speaker tags. Like I've mentioned before, I used to have a huge problem with tags other than "said," and I'm still working on that. I'll go through and check all the tags and beats. I'll read through it one more time to see if I can catch anything else, make sure it makes sense, and then I'll have people proof-read it for me.
For general editing, I listed some tips here. Have you ever had to completely rewrite something? If so, any method you'd like to share?