Rewriting and Rebuilding

Here’s an update on my supernatural science fiction novel. I’ve drafted two rough versions of chapter one, one from the main character’s (MC’s) perspective and the other from the love interest’s (LI’s) perspective.

Despite what I wrote two weeks ago, I’m leaning towards using the LI’s, instead of the MC’s, perspective in the first chapter. The reason is the MC and his life are so strange, I think readers will react better to him if he’s first seen–and accepted–by someone normal, and more relatable.

Therefore, the MC’s perspective starts in the second chapter, which I’m still drafting. I’d started rewriting the second chapter from the LI’s perspective, but now that’s the third chapter.

I no longer worry about how many times I change something in this novel. Every passage I write, rewrite, or remove teaches me more about the craft of writing; the most important task at this time is to improve.

While I write, I also research. I don’t know how not to do both at the same time. I draft, marking where I need more information until a hole bothers me enough to send me digging through Internet searches, asking favors of subject matter experts, and borrowing armloads of books. If I spend too much time on research, a plaintive whisper in my mind explodes into a loud rant about how I need to produce my own words. Then I continue writing, adding markers for new holes.

Mary Van Duzer-Sayer House - Click for sourceThe primary setting in this novel is the MC’s house and land, in a region I’ve visited only twice, neither time taking notes for stories. As you can guess, that makes my job of verifying details harder.

The Internet and a few people I know have offered some help but paper books do more. I have an idea of the house’s appearance and history, though I need pictures and detailed explanations of why, when, and how certain architectural elements were used. These are easier to find and compare in books.

My favorite architectural books so far:

  • The Visual Dictionary of American Domestic Architecture by Rachel Carley and illustrated by Ray Skibinski and Ed Lam
  • A Guide to Old American Houses 1700-1900 by Henry Lionel Williams and Ottalie K. Williams

My image of the house is strengthening as I improve its accuracy. The biggest change so far is in the central hall, which was fit for a palace and is now a smaller, less symmetrical, though elegant hall.

All this is to say I’m making progress. It’s roundabout, but it’s progress.


6 thoughts on “Rewriting and Rebuilding”

  1. I do the same, I research and I write. Sometimes I actually have my laptop next to my desktop, and I research things as they enter the story…I was thinking of doing a post about this 🙂

    Oh, and I agree, it is a ongoing project, this business of learning the craft of writing! Thankfully, a never ending one.

  2. You’re right. I figure a writer either quits or continues learning, because writing is also an art. Artists, art, and the people who view art constantly change, creating more to learn. There is no end.

  3. I admire your patience – that you’ve stopped worrying about how many times you’ve changed things in your novel. I also liked reading about your research process here. Sounds like a fresh, balanced, productive way to write!

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed this post. My research process isn’t perfect–I must occasionally rewrite to include new information–but it does work for me.

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