I’ve never been in the position of having to do a great many rewrites. I write pretty cleanly, and a lot of the stuff I’ve done has been short, or collaborative, so checks and balances have been pretty well in place from the outset.
When my agent signed me, we went through all the things I would need to do with “Naming Names” to turn it into the best possible book. It had been in my drawer for the better part of three years and I knew that it couldn’t go out to the general public in its first draft form. Apart from anything else, there were things that, after long reflection, I wanted to address.
Fortunately, my agent and I were, roughly speaking, on the same page, and I went away from our meeting content that I would be able to make the changes that we both knew were necessary.
Then a lovely writer who had read my first draft also offered an opinion on the text, and, again, our minds were as one on the general principles.
All of that said, I still wasn’t entirely sure how the rewrites were going to work out until I began on them.
I started by taking out all of the linking chapters and discarding them wholesale. These were the problem chapters, and they were not at the core of the thing, so simply removing them seemed like the cleanest option. It did take a long moment making sure the original manuscript was well backed up, and even then, I took a deep breath each time I hit the delete key, but it was soon done.
Then I began to expand the remaining chapters that were still clinging like so much flotsam and jetsam to the core of “Naming Names”. Fortunately, this book always had a strong back, a great spine on which to build. I was grateful for it then, and I’m grateful for it now.
I am halfway through these re-writes, and, at this point, I have lucked into an idea for the other half of the process, which will involve going back to that spine, and building a strong ribcage around it to protect all those lovely organs.
Yep... I’ve clearly stretched that metaphor to breaking point.
Anyway, I had sketched out some thoughts, and I’d talked about it, but, now that I’m working on the book, and since a solution has presented itself organically, things are really beginning to work.
When I first wrote this novel, I didn’t even consider that it would need rewriting. The core was there, and, as far as I was concerned, I’d written exactly the book I wanted to write.
This is an entirely different experience, but I’m very glad that I’m having it.