How often have I rewritten my latest novel?
I have lost count of the number of times I have rewritten my latest book, Highwaypersons, Book II, The King’s Justice. Not that I have scrapped it and started again. I have revised it and changed lots of elements each time. I keep thinking I have nearly finished, but every time I am wrong. Whenever I am just going through it one last time, I notice something I am not happy with. I was beginning to think I was becoming a perfectionist, when I was reminded that most great writers, and lots of not-so-great ones, rewrite their books time after time. One famous author said, “Any fool can write: the skill is in the rewriting.”
What am I rewriting?
Although I do keep spotting typos and grammatical errors, my main focus is the story. I find parts that don’t add anything to the whole. Someone said, “Give readers information on a need to know basis,” making a lot of the chapters redundant. I also keep finding things that need adding, in order to make clear the characters’ characters and their motivations.
Is that all I am rewriting?
No. I want to have another look at the period detail and other descriptions. I want you to feel you are right there. On the other hand, I don’t want to slow down the action with too much detail. Then I want to think if I have expressed myself as well as I could, to make it an interesting and enjoyable read. There is the complication that it is a sequel. Not everyone reading it will have read Book I. This means that I need to ensure I don’t take too much for granted, such as assuming all readers know who all the characters are and how they relate to each other. Or how my characters became highwaypersons. On the other hand I don’t want to include so much backstory that it detracts from the actual sequel.
Why is rewriting taking so long?
Every now and then, I leave it and get on with some other writing. Some of that will be published in another name but I am also working on more Geoffrey Monmouth novels. It helps to go away from a work and come back a little fresher. You can be too close to it. I can see how difficult it would be if I was working on the same book all the time. I would fear for my sanity. (Don’t answer that!) Sometimes, I just get a bit of inspiration relating to one of my other books and I just have to follow it up before I forget it. There have also been times when I have come upon historical facts that I have wanted to incorporate into one or other of my books. OK – if I did my research properly before I started that would occur less often. Sorry!
Am I doing all this rewriting myself?
So far, yes. However, when I am as satisfied as I am likely to be, I will probably send it to an editor to correct mistakes and improve the wording, because I want this book to be as good as it can be.
Of course, this gives you time to read Highwaypersons, Book I, Debts and Duties if you have not already, before the sequel comes out. Or read it again. Or encourage someone else to read it.