The Joys of Rewriting.

Blogging the Editing Day #6

Chapter Five was my favourite chapter from the start. I would happily rewrite my entire novel to make it work. Fortunately I don’t need to because I already did it three years ago. Back then, it was the absolute standout chapter, but when read in context with all that followed, it felt like it didn’t belong. I made a weak attempt at forcing it to fit; but in the end, each of my little patches were obviously just patches. If I couldn’t fool myself into believing they belonged, then how could I fool my reader?

At the time, I already knew about William Faulkner’s wise words: “Kill your darlings”. Easy when you say it quickly. Not so easy when you’re unsure of which darling to kill.

After a week of contemplation and angst, I realised that the problem was not with Chapter Five. It was, in fact, with Chapters Six to Thirty. In contrast, One to Four, needed a minor rewrite. Five shone. The rest were highly polished waffle, written several years before, when I’d yet to learn the difference between a first draft and a second.

Thus began what was rapidly becoming a habit. Another major rewrite.

Yep, I’d completely rewritten this novel more than once. This was attempt Number Three. Now it’s behind me, I can happily say, I have no regrets. My novel ended up with a narrower focus which gave me room enough to explore its major themes in a believable manner. Chapter Five is no longer just fun and edgy, but now foreshadows later events, develops character, progresses plot, reinforces world-building and ends with an unpredictable logical twist.

It’s still my favourite chapter. Better still, it fits.

The rewriting process turned out to be a bonus, allowing me to identify which sub-plots were working, which characters were necessary, and which weren’t. As a result, a few more darlings were sent to the gallows. C’est la vie.