Posted by on Mar 3, 2015 in Evergreen, Mistress Novel, On Writing: Craft and Commiseration | 2 comments

I took a break from rewriting my novel.

I’d thought I had it after experimenting and started moving forward with my rewrite again. I actually got to that same third of the way point from the last draft and started to suspect that, though I’d made a bunch of changes, it still wasn’t enough. The book was still missing something and I was wasting my time writing a second flawed version until I figured out what it was. I finally had to put it aside for a while because I was getting no where.

But I made sure it was a productive break by spending that time doing two exercises to keep me thinking about my rewrite even if I wasn’t actively working on it. 

Tangential Research

I decided to do some random research on some topics tangential to the characters and stories so that I was at least doing something. I’d look up some info and then force myself to just do a little journal entry as one of my characters inspired by whatever I had just read.

Did it move the draft forward? Not really. I can’t use any of what I wrote during that time in the final book. But I can’t deny that a lot of what I looked up then informed some of the things I did later. And, most importantly, it gave me a way to get excited about the book again when I was at the point when I hated it the most.

Rethinking the Visuals

One of the hurdles of rewriting the book was simply the fact that I was still picturing it the same way. To combat this, I did something very simple that ended up having a huge effect. The book is set in a fictional location based heavily on a real place. I left the name of the fictional place the same in the book but switched the real location I was basing it on in my head. My new inspiration was very similar to the original place but different enough that I started to think of it differently. I don’t think a reader with both versions would even notice the change but it was a huge shift for me, re-framing how I thought of every scene going forward. The new location also provided, my characters with opportunities the old one hadn’t.

When I saw how well this worked, I did the same with characters and other visual elements until the whole book had a new look in my mind, if not in the draft itself.

Photo by jinterwas