Now that we’ve tackled the monster that is Retroactive Outlining, it’s time we move on to the fun stuff (or at least, the more fun stuff): Rewriting. Honestly, this was one of my favorite parts, because you can go back and make all the changes that have been running around in your head. During my rewrite, I added a whole new plot twist that wasn’t in my first draft (and I LOVE this plot twist). It takes a little bit of time, but believe me, it’s nothing like writing your first draft.
In hopes of helping you through your rewriting, I’ve listed a few tips on the process below:
1. Have Your New Outline in Plain Sight
Keep your new retroactive outline beside you as you write so you can consult it in case you get confused. If you’re changing large sections of your draft or re-ordering events, it can be easy to get turned around. Don’t forget that it’s okay to make changes to your outline as you go! I had to re-work the last third of my outline because I mixed up some information and couldn’t un-muddle it. If this happens to you, just breathe. Take your time, and make the necessary changes. Then, follow your new outline unless you find something that doesn’t work. If you do come across trouble, take the time to re-do your outline. It does help cut down on confusion, I swear!
2. Know What Changes You Want to Make Ahead of Time
If you’ve been considering making any notable changes (i.e., the opening scene, the important information reveals, or the ending), now is definitely the time to do it. Reworking things now is a lot easier than trying to do it later, once you’ve got everything close to how you like it. Make a list of the things you’d like to fix, keep it next to you, too, and check them off as you go along.
3. Tackle the Big Structural Problems as You Go
You know that scene you know belongs in a different part of the story? Or that chapter where you got the days of the week or the seasons mixed up? Or maybe even the time your main character acted completely wrong? Fix noticeable mix ups like those as you go. Doing so cuts down on the changes you’ll need to make in your second edit.
4. Don’t Get Bogged Down
Rewriting can be daunting. Don’t feel bad if you’re getting a bit discouraged. Rewriting is a process, and you’re essentially typing everything you’ve spent the last year or so writing all over again. Do it anyway! This type of editing cuts down on the edits you’ll need to do during your second draft. It saves you time because you don’t have to re-work so much later and allows you to add all the new stuff you’ve come up with. Not to mention it gives you a chance to change any character or continuity issues before the editing gets really nitty-gritty. Don’t get bogged down in the rearranging. Remember; it’s worth it in the end!
5. Focus on the Finish Line!
Which brings me to my next point: staying focused. Writing a book is a war, not a battle. Like everything important in life, it takes time, dedication and commitment. In this case, the old saying ‘nothing good comes easy,’ is absolutely true. Though it takes time, rewriting propels your beloved project forward and saves you time in the long run. Stay focused on the end goal: your finished manuscript, and don’t sweat the small stuff! You’ve got this!!
I hope these tips help encourage you as you as you work toward finishing your book! For me, completing my rewrite felt as good as finishing my first draft, because I knew I was that much closer to finishing my book. Stay strong and stick it out: it will be worth it when you can hold your finished manuscript in your hand! Just think of that fresh ink smell😃 (I know, I’m a little weird, but quirks make us human. What can I say?)
Chase those authorly dreams!