Why rewrites-Take a Peek

To give some insight into rewrites I will show the original opening paragraph to a short story that is due in two weeks. Then I will show the revision and indicate reasons for change.

The original opening:

On a white park bench near a cobblestone footpath in Queen’s Park, London, sat Mayda Engel waiting for the American writer, Gordon Manton, renowned for his mystery novels and of being suspected in his wife’s death eight years ago. No body was found; no hint of a crime scene, but of course the rumors, the suspicions. It’s always the spouse isn’t it?

And now the revised opening:

Mayda Engel looked left, then right, before glancing behind her. She was sitting on a white wooden bench near a cobblestone footpath. Her heart pounding, her breath laboring, her mind wavering back and forth; yes she was meeting a murderer at his request, but no she told herself, he was never arrested, only suspected. His wife’s body was never found, no crime scene, nothing to indicate murder, only malicious gossip eight year ago when the wife of writer Gordon Manton disappeared. Mayda didn’t believe he was a killer, but still, one can’t assume, or at least, should not assume.

Reasons for the revision:

The original is bare bones, giving the facts as to who (Mayda), where (Queen’s Park, London), what (waiting) and though it indicates who she is waiting for, there is not enough hook.

But in the revision, she is clearly apprehensive, looking left, looking right, looking behind her. Her heart is pounding, her breath labored, her mind wavering. Is she meeting a killer? It better engages the reader.

The original is passive, the revision more active. I also dropped the location of London because I revised the entire story, making cuts about why Gordon bought the house which resembled the Keats house in Hampstead, therefore location was no longer important. The cuts were done because it added little to nothing and was not needed. When in doubt delete.

A writer always wants to get things right and because of that there is a tendency to spend a lot of time on each paragraph. This is something Goethe did. He said he wrote one page per day and never looked at it again. But he said, he would rewrite that page over and over, and over and over. And again and again.

Everyone is different in their approach. But maybe it is best to write down the bare bones, keep writing with an active mind, getting down as much as you can before your mind shuts down. Then let it sit, get back to it with a fresh mind and see what is missing and fill in the details.

No matter your approach the key to writing is the rewriting. And the rewriting. And maybe I will give it another look tomorrow.

Here are two collection of e-book short stories available on Amazon.


10 research sites for fiction writers-or anyone

Whether you write current fiction, science fiction, romance, westerns, horror, or like me, write mysteries set in the 1920’s or short stories with a paranormal theme, you want to get things right. You don’t want Abraham Lincoln turning on a radio to get news about the war in the Western theatre. Then again you might if you are writing alternate history or science fiction, but I will stand by my statement.

One obvious place to start is the Library of Congress. Something more European, try the European library, or if you need something specific about England, try their National Archives.  Don’t want to slight Australia , so there you are.

Another site with many topics is encyclopedia.com.

Writerswrite.com is a clearing house to take you to more specific sites and is fun to browse anyway.

This is a fun site I found on Pinterest called Fiction Writing research site.

Of course I will mention Wikipedia and though I am aware one must be careful what you find here, I have primarily used when researching 1927. What happened in each month of the year, anything newsworthy I could use in my story. I also double checked the information I found to make sure.

Want to get geographical names correct try U.S. Board on geographic names. A word here on street names. When dealing with the past, some cities have changed street names. In my e-novel set in 1911, “Loonies in the Dugout,” I used a map of New York from 1911. I also used a 1927 map of Los Angeles for two e-novels. I don’t know if any of the names I used had changed, but it is wise never to assume; always use source material.

And if you want to see how wrong politicians are in their statements try Factcheck.org. Good for a laugh, or tears, or anger.

Or you can go retro like I do. I go to book sales where I find books like “The Oxford World Mythology,” “The Oxford History of the Classical World,” or “Gray’s Anatomy,” (helpful if you want a coroner to explain cause of death or any medical issues if you write murder mysteries). You can also explore your local library if you feel the need to get away from clicking, tapping, and out of your chair because your butt is getting flat, and be able to touch real books with lots of info, take notes with tools like pen and paper. Then cross check with Internet sources. Research is important and fun. You never know where your search will lead you.

If you have a site you want to share leave a comment.

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