Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Fast rewriting

I used to think of myself as a fast writer. Not super speedy, but quick and fairly well locked down once the first draft was done. But looking back, I can see I was fooling myself. I'm more of a fast rewriter...and even that isn't exactly right...because I rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until the story gets as close to set as possible.

Friends used to accuse me of making minimal changes between drafts of screenplays...and sometimes they were right. But it was always geared to making the story viable and solid and as exact as it can be, even though in film a writer's work gets very little respect. Actors won't say the lines you need to be said, or they say them wrong. Directors cut. Editors cut. Producers cut. Distributors cut. And no one pays any real attention to what the writer wants.

In my books, however, it's all on me. I'm the one who has to make it work, and I can't blame actors for saying lines wrong or the director for being blind to the best way to put the film on celluloid. And reality is, it's always taken me much longer to do a book than a script, even relatively speaking.

HTRASG actually took 4 years to write. PM was faster; a year and reads like it. RIHC6 was 2 years. And BC was a good 5 years to get it done. LD really took a total of 15 years, because it began as a screenplay then shifted to a play then became a book. Same for NYPD Blood/French Connection Blues, my straight cop yarn; it started off as a script and went through several drafts before becoming a book that became another book.

Now comes OT, which is going through years of work, on and off, while settling itself into whatever pace it wants. And it's getting close, finally. I went back through the last two chapters I'd written and did a bit more rearranging...moving some of Jake's interior dialogue from him lying in bed to him running through Palm Springs early in the morning...and it feels even better. Tighter. Smoother. Who knows -- I may actually get this book finished...

Which makes me wonder how long my rewriting will take on Place of Safety...

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