Friday, January 02, 2015

The Magnetic Attraction of Old Words

One of the most difficult things in a rewrite is actually making serious changes. You know the existing text isn't right, but is it enough to just  make a few little nips and tucks here and there, or does it need a complete reworking from the ground up?

And even when you do, you'll often find that you're going right back to the same old phrasing, especially if you're looking at the original text as you're rewriting. It's so bad that some writers have even suggested that you should put your first draft aside, then summarize it from memory and write the new text afresh.

I'm noticing this problem myself as I'm rewriting The Steel Breeds True yet again. For instance, there's a scene that now happens in a different place than in the earlier version of the story. I was trying to just rewrite it line by line, but as I re-read the new version, I'm realizing that it's just not working this way. And as I keep struggling with it, I'm coming to the uncomfortable conclusion that the only way to fix it is to write a completely new text. A lot more work than just changing wording here and there, but the only way to make the changes that need to be made.