Writing, Rewriting, and Unwriting

I’ve been writing just about every day. And yet, I haven’t produced a single new page in well over a month. Writing involves more than…well…WRITING. There’s rewriting, also known as revising. And there’s what I’ve starting calling UNwriting.

I’ve been doing a LOT of UNwriting lately.

You may recall the short story I created early in the year. It was supposed to be no more than 4,000 words, but finished out at 9,000. After much toiling and cutting and slashing, I succeeded in unwriting over 5,000 words to make the word count. Next, I took on the task of entering one of my completed (but so far unsold) manuscripts in the Daphne Du Maurier contest held by the Kiss of Death chapter of Romance Writers of America. They require a 675-word synopsis and the first 5,000 words of the novel, preferably ending on a “hook.”

I had a one paragraph synopsis and I had a 1,600 word synopsis. The first was too condensed. The second? Well, I was already warmed up, so I unwrote 925 words to bring the long version down to size.

Since the novel is completed, I thought plucking out the first 5,000 words would be easy. Until I did some calculating and determined that my “hook” didn’t hit the page until around 8,000 words into it.

By now, as you can guess, I was ready to chuck the whole idea of entering the contest. I’d sworn off contests anyway. I’ve finished third. I’ve been named a finalist. I’ve been named an honorable mention. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Yadda yadda.

But what the heck. Being a finalist isn’t so bad. And my unwriting muscles have already been finely honed. Yep. I unwrote another 3,000 words to bring my opening chapter…and its hook…down to 5,000 words.

I am done unwriting. No more. I can’t take it.

So this morning, I pulled out the new manuscript in progress. But I haven’t worked on it in months. To help bring myself up to speed, I did a little REwriting. I pulled out an early chapter and read through it and the notes my critique buddies had made on it. No major cuts. Just changes. Improvements. I have a few more chapters to rewrite and revise before my head will be back in the story.

Then? Look out!

Comments

Kristine said…
I hear you, Annette. I've been doing a lot of UNwriting, too. I've been working hard on revising and rewriting but feel as if I haven't made any REAL progress as far as page count goes. ((sigh)))

And congratulations on making it through your last yoga class. Your new life has begun...enjoy it!
Donnell said…
Annette, right back at you in the rewriting/unwriting field. I think one of the best pieces of writing advice I've ever received was from Robert Crais when he said, don't fall in love with your words. They're tools. Back to work!
Annie Wicking said…
Less a writer more a unwriter, WoW! I never knew there was such a thing.

Now I must decide whether I'm going to be a writer
or unwriter.;-)
Annette said…
Annie, don't forget...you have to be a writer FIRST. Otherwise there isn't anything to UNwrite.

Donnell, that's a great quote. And excellent advice.
Sara said…
Just reading about YOU doing all that work makes MY brain tired.

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