I’m struggling with rewriting a story.
Editing I can do. Revising I can do (after all, revising is a lot like editing, right?)
But rewriting is a whole different game.
I’ve spent a couple months with some health issues which meant I didn’t get any work done on the new story. I know it’s going to be easy to pick that thread up again but right now the energy I have for writing isn’t streaming toward creating. So I pulled out an old story I wrote almost twenty years ago.
I love that story but there are serious structural issues with it. Not enough characters, so that the antagonist is glaringly obvious. Not enough conflict. And not enough subplots. Well, let’s be honest. There’s basically one subplot and that’s it. Which, as any writer of fiction knows, won’t support a novel-length story.
So I decided to use this time of healing to rewrite that story. And I’ve discovered it’s actually hard. I’ve been trying to come up with something to compare the process to. And the closest I can get is baking.
Have you ever baked a cake, finished the batter, poured it into the pan, and then realized that you forgot something vital, like the eggs? So you dump it back into the mixing bowl and try to add what you forgot, but it just doesn’t mix up quite the same. And doesn’t bake quite right.
Rewriting is like trying to add those darn eggs after the cake is baked.
So much energy is invested in creating and editing and polishing. And then there’s the process of letting go so the story can go out into the world. Rewriting is also like trying to pick up that energy after it’s long dissipated. Trying to find the mood that story was written in.
It’s challenging to find spots to slip in new characters or new dialog. That seems much harder than adding in bits of internalizations. Then there’s trying to figure out conflicts and subplots for secondary characters that I’ve now realized I never knew.
There’s too much in the story that’s good to just toss and start all over. I’m not even sure I could start over and end up with the same spirit that’s in this version. I definitely don’t want to lose this version.
So I’m plugging along – literally – plugging in bits and pieces as I go. I still like this old story. But my writing has changed since back then.
The process of rewriting is more challenging than I expected. Luckily I like a challenge when it comes to writing.
We’ll see what happens.