It has been four weeks since I made the bold decision to make Archangel into two novels. Four weeks that seemed to go by in half that time, but now we are here. And what progress have I made?
Not as much as I wanted.
I will keep the excuses short. Wrapping up my internship in the first three weeks of the month was a busy time, but I thought I could make up for that by altering my blog schedule. It did help, for sure. At the same time, I am continually writing (blogs and short stories), reading (for leisure, reviews, and beta reading), looking for jobs to support this writing addiction, and the endless responsibilities of everyday life, I have done all I can to make time for Archangel. In fact, I overstretched myself, and had to hold off on a new project I wanted to start. There are so many ideas, but that’s why we have notepads.
So what have I done then? My first step was to make a plan. You all must know by now how much I think planning can help. The proof is there, and my own personal experiences can attest to it. Actually sticking to the plan is a different story, but going in blind is rarely, if ever, beneficial. So, in an effort to help out any other writers who may find themselves in my position, here is an outline of how I will be going about rewriting my novel.
Read it Again. My first task I assigned myself was to re-read Archangel again in its entirety. I have never read a book as many times as I have read my own, nor have I so thoroughly known a story. Despite all that, I knew I had to go through the manuscript with my finest-tooth comb yet. And I followed it with a scalpel. I found some more editing mistakes which seem to make themselves. But, more importantly, I decided exactly what I wanted to keep, what can be reworked, what can be saved for later (a sequel or short story), and what needs to be cut right out and discarded.
Make an Outline. A plan within a plan! However you choose to format your novel outline revisit that now. Personally, I have a high-level plan, a chapter-by-chapter plan, character outlines, setting descriptions, and a few odds and ends everywhere else. Revisit your outline and make it reflect the open-heart surgery you just gave to your manuscript. Make the necessary changes so that you know exactly what will need to be added, changed, or removed.
Make the Changes! This is the hardest, most time-consuming, and the most enjoyable part. It isn’t easy thinking that you have to drastically change pieces of your pride and joy, nor is it simple to add bits where there were none before. But you can look at it in a different way: think about it as a chance to elevate your work to new heights, to further develop it into more detail, into a bigger world than it was previously. You are a writer, so enjoy the actual writing part of this process!
Go Through it One More Time. I don’t think you can read your own work too many times. Even as the person who wrote it, you might find something new, something you didn’t even know that you put in there. Once you have made all of the necessary changes (a lot of time will have passed between when you started step three and now), read through the manuscript again, maybe even twice. You are looking for any errors in the new work, but you are primarily checking for flow. You just dissected this beautiful manuscript of yours and threw on some extra parts. You have Frankenstein’s rewrite and you want to make sure those stitches aren’t showing. These stitches include making sure character and scene descriptions still match up, that events cut out are not referenced, but new events are. You want to make sure that even the smallest reference in chapter twenty to an event in chapter two still makes sense. Even one line out of place can throw a reader for a loop, so make sure there isn’t one for them to find!
Everything else. There is a lot involved in the process that comes after finishing a manuscript, far too much to be tacked on to this blog. You may have already started this process before cutting your manuscript up and reworking it, or you may need to start fresh. Regardless, you now have a completed manuscript, a better one than before, and you should celebrate! It is back to being considered a first or second draft, but be proud of yourself.
No one said this journey was going to be an easy one, and I can personally attest that it is not. However, no one said that you can’t enjoy it, nor can you learn from it. Every rewrite is a chance for you to grow, for your story to grow, and for you to come one step closer to your dream of being a writer.
Does your rewrite look any different than my own? Let me know in the comments below. This weekend the blog will be updated with a .pdf file of the outline checklist so you can have a physical checklist for rewriting. That’s my update for now, I will keep you in the know as Archangel comes along!