As I gear up for my next draft of my first book, the fantasy/action epic Never Heroes, one nagging question continues to give me great thought. Just how much of this thing do I re-write?
That is the most important question of any next draft. What elements are the ones that need to be re-worked and which ones are already fine? Re-writing elements that are already perfected can be nothing but a detriment to something you’ve worked on so hard as a writer. That question can be answered any number of ways.
The first of which is the writing process itself. Most people have a good setup to their story, even if the payoff isn’t so good. The reason for this is that’s the first part anyone writes in their story. That being the case, it is the part that often gets the most attention throughout the entire writing process. We’ve all done that, get a chapter done then go back to our opening chapters once we get an idea to insert in a few lines or description to properly set it up.
The opening to this book is, for the most part, right where I want it. It will unlikely be given much attention during this latest draft.
That leaves the second and third acts, which is where things start to get a little tricky. The second act could certainly use some tweaking here and there. The set up of the characters is there in the opening five or six chapters, so that won’t be too much of a problem, but the conflicts they share are not. So how much of the second act does this mean I need to re-write?
Well, that’s a tricky business. There’s a lot I love about the book past the halfway point, but there are a lot of issues I have with it as well. The action here is solid and spectacular, but the character interactions leave something to be desired. There are a lot of great ideas for various locales, but the execution may not be quite right. The extent to which this section of the book shall be re-written is definitely something to mull over.
The third act on the other hand, that needs to be torn completely down. Of course a lot of the material is there. I’ve got some good bricks to lay in order for the final action set piece to be reimagined into something for more dynamic and exciting. But the shape of it is wrong, certain characters don’t come in when they need to be there, other characters come in when they should be absent, the stakes aren’t high enough and the action drawn out in such a way it never stays fresh as it should be.
The third act is the one that needs the most work, but it’s also the one for which I have the clearest plan. As such, that’s the part of the book that has me the most hopeful when thinking about this upcoming series of re-writes. I’ve got a lot planned for my unusual cast of characters.
So that’s what I’m left with. The first act is fine, the second act needs some work, and the third act needs to be done from scratch. Now in what order shall this be done? That’s another difficult question that will require much of my mulling resources.
The obvious answer is to do it in sequence, but perhaps that’s not what I should be thinking right now. Since I have a clearer vision for the ending, perhaps I should do those final chapters first. Maybe in writing that, it will give me a better idea how to fix up the second act. After all, I’ll know precisely what I need to set up once it’s already on the page.
In any case, the planning and re-outlining will begin in a few days time, and the keyboard waltz will begin again a few days after that. I may be exhausted from Manhunters, but when it comes to my writing, I never like to rest for very long.