Monday, June 15, 2009

Tearing Down the Wall by Morgan Mandel

On the way to the commuter train a few days ago, I noticed workers tearing down a brick wall which runs around a swimming pool at one of the condo buildings. I was wondering what was going on. Apparently, repairs needed to be made to the swimming pool and they couldn't get the equipment in any other way to perform them.

Since I'm always thinking in writing terms, the process reminded me of edits. Sometimes it's necessary to tear down walls to fix things in our manuscripts. It could be a small wall or a huge one, depending on the problem.

In my current romantic suspense, Killer Career, I'm almost through with the edits. One of them required me to remove a prologue and weave it into another part of the story. I had to figure out where to put it and if I should throw some of it away. I did find a new home and a better one. I did remove a few sentences also. The best thing is I'm happy with the result.

Moral of my story is don't be afraid to remove or rearrange manuscript parts if that's what it takes to fix it.

What about you? Have you had to make a major change in a manuscript? Were you happy with the result? Please share.

Morgan Mandel


Dana Fredsti said...

My classic example of a case of having to completely change things was when the planned murderer in MFH refused to cooperate and, in fact, just would NOT be our villain. So I had to rewrite the hell out of the book! It was much better as a result.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Like Dana, I've changed murderers in mid-stream. And a couple of times I've had a book want to wrap up about 10,000 words too early and needed to do a major rewrite (because I didn't want to just add fluff in there.)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Jacqueline Lichtenberg said...

Found this mentioned on twitter.

My second novel, my first Award Winner, was UNTO ZEOR, FOREVER (SF not mystery, but a Relationship driven plot -- would be SFR today), was a terrible struggle. It took 5 drafts because I was trying to use techniques I hadn't yet mastered.

So, for my writing students today, I have one of the early drafts posted online for free reading, along with some notes about the changes -- and you can still get a copy of the Doubleday hardcover or the paperback on amazon to see how it was finally published.

Even more, UNTO is of my Sime~Gen Universe novels, and today the discussion List devoted to that universe is talking about how Digen (the lead character) resembles House (House MD).

Here's the early draft.

The published version was the result of a number of HUGE edits on a version at least 3 drafts beyond this web-edition's point, edits made by the editor who inherited the project from an editor who left who had originally bought the project.

The "out-takes" are also posted online for free reading, so students can reassemble the turned in draft from the published draft.

Only a trufan would ever want to do that!

Unto Zeor, Forever was absolutely the worst struggle I've ever had with a novel, truly epic in proportions. But it won the award, so struggling is worth it.

Take that to heart when your editor seems cruel.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Bob Sanchez said...

I've written characters and subplots out of manuscripts, though not in the very late stages. In a third (or so) draft of a recent novel I wrote a short sketch about a javelina, half expecting it to be a throwaway. But my writers' group encouraged me to weave it into the story, and the animal almost took over. It became When Pigs Fly.

I never changed villains in midstream, though.

Bob Sanchez

unwriter said...

I don't often have to do a rewrite, but my book, "It was in the Tea Leaves" requires major rework and I haven't been brave enough to start on it.