I am working on the re-write of The Vacillating Vigilante. Re-writing is always a challenge, and I’ve heard some writers express a dislike of re-writing. But for me, it’s a chance to see my novel in its entirety, to make sure that all the threads are woven into the appropriate fabric, and to see how well the story flows.
Some writers will do their re-writing as they move through the writing process. They will worry every sentence, paragraph, even every word as they are writing the first draft. I can’t do that. I have to get through the novel first, carefully following my outline, and checking my character files to ensure continuity. When I get through writing, I can be sure the story holds together — the outline ensures that. But I don’t always know if the texture of the story is what I want.
For me, the texture of the story is how consistently the whole story feels, from beginning to end. Imagine a cloth dinner place mat. If you run your finger over it, you can feel the texture of the cloth. It’s usually consistent wherever you run it. A story should be the same way. There shouldn’t be rough spots, uneven spots, areas where the story feels different from other areas.
In my Hot Dog Detective stories, I try to create an even texture by weaving together several key threads. First, there should be a definable mystery that the reader cannot immediately solve. The solution should emerge throughout the story from clues or interactions between MacFarland and characters in the story. Second, the story should have periodic flashes of humor, irony, and comic relief, usually built around MacFarland’s interactions with Rufus or the Cooper family. And third, there should be a slight tension between MacFarland and Pierson as they move closer to each other.
These three threads make up the fabric of every story. I try to weave them so that the “feel” of these threads is consistent throughout the book and consistent from book to book.
Unfortunately, it is only when I am in the re-write stage that I can actually verify that the fabric of my story has been properly woven. As I go through scene after scene, I see the story as the reader sees it, and only then can I determine whether I’ve been successful in achieving my writing goal – to create a mystery that has character and is balanced by humor.
And which also doesn’t have spelling errors, bad grammar, and inadvertent errors in construct.