I’m one chapter into the rewrite of my first novel. I’m glad I decided to start anew rather than continue trying to fix what came before. I doubt I’ll use much of the old material beyond the plot, characters, and some ideas. There are particular challenges, however. In rewriting I’m essentially constructing another novel from scratch. This means I have to do most of the work over again. It would be very easy to overwhelm myself with the concept of “Too Much Work.”
To combat this, I’ve decided on the major large changes and then have narrowed my focus. I outlined with the major changes. For this rewrite, however, I’m mainly working on getting the characters motivated. Looking at the first draft I don’t really feel connected to anyone in the novel. I feel like I could, maybe, like a couple of the characters, but they aren’t quite there yet for me. They feel flat. This is not acceptable. I read novels 70-80% for the people in them. I want to write novels that have the same draw.
To do this, I’m plunging in and going (perhaps) a bit overboard. I’ve done a lot of hand written background brainstorming for everyone. I’ve made RPG character profiles for a couple of them. I’ve given them disorders, quirks, interests. Essentially, I’ve thrown the kitchen sink of character building at my people. I was in the bath when I realized that I needed to do this. Before a day or two ago, they weren’t talking to me. I couldn’t really see the characters as more than wooden dolls in a nice set I’d created. I don’t want to play with dolls (dolls are creepy. Seriously creepy).
With this focus, now I can continue the rewrite. Plot and setting can be tweaked. If I can manage a few compelling, interesting, dare I say memorable characters, the rest can follow. The rest will follow.
Here’s a list of the changes between drafts one and two. (In no particular order).
The Dude is now named Ryg. He’s also agoraphobic and OCD.
Sif talks less. In fact, she pretty much only talks to Hex. She’s also far more psychotic and less moral than before.
Sif and Hex are already in a relationship.
Hex is not the jealous type anymore. He’s now the type to hide his insecurities with sarcasm. He’s also more accepting of Sif and her issues.
Kadin is a more major character who contributes to a twist.
The setting is quite a bit different. There are no cars now, just small electric vehicles and personal transportation. Stuff is transported on the electric rail system under the city or via carts hooked to the personal vehicles. I’ve refined and altered the food system as well as government. The city only has one main street now, the whole thing is a spiral. The districts are more defined (and in fact can be closed off from each other if necessary). The setting is much more complex, but also I hope more unique and interesting. Since I’m focusing on character, not setting as much, I will definitely have to flesh some things out later I think. That’s what the next bit of editing is for.
The plot is essentially the same, but with some more challenges and complexities tossed in. I’ve removed the secret society and am working on making everyone motivated due to character desires rather than using the GM Stick.
On another note: sometimes I think I definitely bit off more than I really should have for this first novel. I’m writing what boils down to a Political Cyberpunk Adventure/Thriller with medical and fantastical elements. Couldn’t I have just started out with a nice straightforward quest fantasy or something? It feels like learning to walk by running a marathon.