What to Do when a Rewrite Turns into a Whole New Book

Just over a week ago, I blogged about my critique with Emma Dryden.  I’ve had some time now to noodle it over.  The more I think about it, the more certain I am that her off the cuff comment is 100% on the mark.  In fact, I blogged about that today over on the Muffin.

This is, of course, going to mean a complete rewrite.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that I am not as much rewriting as I am crafting a whole new novel.  Of course, this means reworking my characters and their motivations.  The plot is going to completely change.  I may get to keep one or two key scenes . . . maybe.  But for the most part I will be starting from scratch.

To keep from taking short cuts, I’m rewatching the Plot Whisperer videos.  In case you aren’t familiar with Martha Alderson and her work, I’ll paste the first video in below.  It is about your character and character goals.  This I had figured out, but I know she’ll make me think about things that I would have skimmed over without even slowing down.  These are definitely the kinds of tools that I need to get me going.  What do you use to help you consider the various aspects of a new project?

–SueBE

News from the Missouri SCBWI Conference — My critique with Emma Dryden

One of the features of the conference that I took advantage of was the critique with freelance editor Emma Dryden.  The manuscript that I submitted, Rat Race, is the same one that I workshop-ed during the retreat with Darcy Pattison.

At first, Emma focused on my synopsis and cover letter which makes sense.  After all, these are the pieces that will give some editor or agent a first impression of my work.  She liked the story a lot but also pointed out something that I had discovered on the retreat.  I need to include more narrative, especially description.  She liked how I dropped a few important terms and then forced the reader to continue on to find out exactly what they were.  Unfortunately, I may have waited just a bit long.

We also chatted about the fact that my character feels young.  This didn’t completely surprise me.  He’s supposed to be 12.  The manuscript, after all, says so.  But the night before when noodling over the story, I had mentally referred to him as 10.  “No, he’s 11.  I mean 12.”

Snot.

Actually, the story will work with him at 11 so that isn’t horrifying.  Part of what brings it down, in terms of age, is the age of the antagonist.  His kid sister is only 6.  Then Emma lobbed something big at me (this is a paraphrase).  “This just now came to me, but why don’t you make his sister his twin?”

Twin.

The same age.

10 or 11.

That would pull the age back up a bit, easily to 11.  It would also increase the tension.  He’s now being tormented by a peer.  And she’d have to do slightly different things to him, but they could be much sneakier, much more evil.  She could be one of the mean girls.

And so went my brain for the rest of the day.  Sure, I looked like I was paying attention, but what I was really doing was noodling.  What exactly will this mean for my story?  I don’t have to do it, but will it make for a stronger story?

I think the answer might just be yes.

–SueBE