Doing another big rewrite

I want to rewrite ‘Harry and Mars’ by June 14th, so that I can incorporate most of the notes I got from before submitting it for the Kansas workshop. (I’m also planning to do a few more revisions to ‘The Landing’ in the same timeframe.)

Unfortunately, it looks like most of the opinions I got from are suggesting that the story has some good potential, but some serious issues. When I pull up the appropriate tab of my ‘tracking spreadsheet’, some of the first entries for Harry and Mars include:

  • Flesh out the characterization of all characters (except Harry)
  • Explain the roots and the progressions of the phobia better. The reader has to believe in it!
  • Plot relies on unlikely personal issues.
  • ‘Show, don’t tell’ about Harry in particular
  • Write with better style
  • Explore the theme of hopelessness more?
  • The ending is pointless

Now, to be fair, I sorted the list for items that I felt would require a lot of work to get these ones to the top, but still, there weren’t a lot of ‘quick wins’ and easy changes that I thought would improve the story much.

Like the title character in the story, I do feel a bit as if I’m on the edge of giving into despair and fear. I’ve already done a fairly substantial rewrite on my first draft, and despite the potential that I and other people have seen, I’m not entirely sure if there’s a great story in here that I can tell, or that I really want to tell. Still, I haven’t given up, and I’m going to give it one more try in the next two weeks. Going over all the points from that list, I’ve actually just had an interesting idea for reworking the story – getting rid of Charlie as the POV character, beginning the story with Harry attempting suicide and being stopped, and having three supporting characters each interview her to try and find out why she did it – the doctor, the captain, and Charlie, the best friend.

As tempting as it was to work in the ‘phobia of Phobos’ bit, I think that that was leading me astray too. My first draft wasn’t about a phobia, but about a crewmember on a space flight giving into depression and despair in the midst of a crisis, and I think that may be the better way to go after all. The question of why she suffered from that depression, and how no-one had spotted it earlier, can be the central question that I explore.

Wish me luck!



6 Responses to Doing another big rewrite

  1. Knowing exactly what your story needs is the most important place to start. Rewrites, for me, are very difficult. It’s like walking into my bedroom and my clothes are everywhere. I stand there looking at it not knowing where to start.

    You know where to start so you’re way ahead. Congratulations for that and good luck.

    Great Stuff!


  2. J E Fritz says:

    Ooh, that sounds like an interesting book. Rewrites are as big a task as writing the first draft, but it sounds like you have a good handle on how to proceed. I’ll wish you good luck but I don’t think you need it.


  3. Donna Hole says:

    I do wish you luck Chris.

    Unsolicited advice; take it or leave it . .

    You seem to have a handle on what the overall story plot is. The MC character plot supports that premise. Always keep these in mind. Everything else is either a well planned distraction that is easily wrapped up, or eventually supports the two main plots.

    I like your premise. Situational depression (in this case space depression) is quite common, and mostly overlooked by persons involved. I think you could subtlely integrate the story in such a manner the reader can grasp all the complexities, but the characters dismiss all the relevant info right up until it is obvious. The MC of course, is always the last to know.

    You’re looking at your feedback objectively, you’re coming up with viable solutions that fit your own vision of the story concept, you’re accepting that you could make the story what it was meant to be.

    Take heart dude; you may miss this deadline b/c you’re really working on the story. But it is a marketable story, with awesome characters, complicated plots, and a worthwhile premise. I like that you’re so accepting of feedback.

    If you get through this re-write and want another crit, feel free to contact me. Maybe some of my social worker skills can assist you in your character plot details.


  4. Carol Riggs says:

    BEST OF LUCK to ya! I feel your pain/hard work, cuz I’m revising too right now. Some of it fairly major stuff…I did totally rewrite the last 2 chapters, my ending, and I like it better now. 🙂


  5. You can do it! You have some good ideas now, so don’t give in to despair.
    Glad you’re participating in the blogfest on Monday!


  6. Mike says:

    Be careful what advice writing workshops tell you. “Show, Don’t Tell” doesn’t mean crap to half the published authors out there. Nathan Bransford’s entire first paragraph of his debut novel is all “tell” and he pounds the “Show, Not Tell” thing. They all say, “know when to break the rules.” Well lemme tell you when you can break the rule…when you have enough of a following online that people can estimate sales figures. It is all about what you can sell and has nothing to do with your actual writing.


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