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Rewriting is the Devil’s Work (Just Call Me Satan)



I’m not done rewriting. I’m halfway done. For me, this is the part of the process that is like pulling teeth. In the dark. With a pair of tweezers. But as Chuck Wendig said: Writing is when the words are made. Editing is when the words are made not shitty.

 

I’m getting it done, but YE GODS (yes, I’ve watched entirely too much Mildred Pierce. Kate Winslet is lovely. Guy Pearce was rather lovely looking in the film – except for his Rocketeer hair. I kept waiting for him to strap on a jetpack and fight off Timothy Dalton.) – it is tough.

 

Yesterday, I didn’t reach the goal I’d set for myself, but I had to stop. I completely lost focus, and the words were making me angry.

 

That’s bad – when the words make me rage-y. So, I put the manuscript away. I’m going to take it back out, today. I promise not to burn it, even if I feel like doing so. For one thing, it’s raining. You can’t have a good bonfire in the rain. For another, I don’t know where I put the matches.

 

ANYWAY. In the novel, there are three main characters: Michael, Daniel, and Lilly. Without giving away too much of the plot (which has been the hitch for me, in sharing this) – Michael is the Devil, Daniel is God, and Lilly is something of an unsuspecting human caught between the two.

 

So, here are some of the bits I’ve removed so far and a brief explanation as to why.

 

1)      Lilly eyed him, curiously. It was a look last seen on the face of Cleopatra when she spied Marc Antony. I loved this bit, because I love anything that references Cleopatra. However, this didn’t fit the scene I had it in, but most importantly, it wasn’t true to the character.

2)      She LIKES coffee, so I brought her coffee. And she rebuffs me? Scoffs at it? Mocks ME? I can’t remember the last time anyone DARED to mock me…well, that’s not entirely true. I can. And it didn’t end well for him, but really…

Michael stopped, and shook his head. He was having an entire conversation with himself. That was new. And repugnant. I decided to remove all instances of internal monologue. It worked, for an early draft. But it also felt…too silly in context. So, I found other ways of conveying the same information.

3)      A rueful laugh escaped his lips, as he bent to pick up the shoe. It was like he’d landed in the middle of some bastardized version of Cinderella. I loved these lines. I did. But I had the character lose the shoe earlier, which added a bit of necessary comic relief.

4)      Behold! Lilly though. The mighty power of caffeine! Guzzle before me, and tremble! This was me, geeking out in Thought Mode. I turned Ozymandias, the famous poem, into a mockery of caffeine. It was glorious. It was also, like the titular poem, not meant to last. *shakes fist*

5)      She’d also ingested enough coffee to power the whole of New York City. If cities ran on such things, that is. Again, a reference to coffee. All of my characters are coffee-guzzling fools. I think that’s a bit where life has bled into my fiction, but it works. This bit, however, didn’t work. Because I rewrote the scene preceding this, and instead, two characters had an argument. This did not fit in the middle of an argument. Unless you’re me, and you drink coffee as long as you’re conscious. *twitches*

6)      Terribly mature, Lilly. What’s next? Throwing sand? Pulling hair? Or eating paste? she chided herself. *sigh* I love a good paste-eating reference, but as I said, I’m removing all internal monologues. I found a way to show Lilly’s immaturity. So, it all worked out.

7)      Damn it all to hell, he thought. Patience is a virtue, my fine white ass. I can’t even tell you how much I wanted to leave that in. The ‘he’ there is the Devil, and (to me) there was something hysterical about him thinking that. Maybe I just amuse myself too much. I don’t know. Still, it truly hurt for that to be removed.

8)      (Lilly is referencing Michael’s artistic talent) But you, you could be Annie Lebowitz.”

Michael wanted to laugh. She had sold her soul to him years ago. Too bad she’d found that loophole in her contract, though. That was a loss he’d have to eat. There was something funny about a famed photographer having sold her soul to the Devil, only to find a loophole. But it didn’t really add anything to the story. It was just a reference for the sake of a reference. So, chopping block!

9)      But there was some feline about her smile and in the way she speared the helpless lettuce. It was the look that Judith must’ve had, before severed Holofernes’s head. Forget that the first sentence is clumsy and awkward. The second one, the awesome reference-y bit? It takes the reader out of the story. I pictured people going, “Who? What? HOW do you pronounce that?” That just won’t do. It clogs up the gears.

 

Well, that’s it for now. More as I go, if you like.

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