Zelda 7: Creativity and Rewriting

For those who asked, I can’t talk about the Fun Book, it’s still in the squishy stage when it has to be just me. I wouldn’t have brought it up here except that it’s taking time away from You Again and that’s what the Twelve Days are about, what happens as I try to write Zelda.

One of the worst parts about rescuing a past book is that since it’s not new, so much of what I do doesn’t feel creative. There’s something about starting a brand new book that’s both terrifying (one hundred thousand freaking words) and exhilarating (I can do anything!). Rewriting is so much more about craft and decision than it is about story-telling. So I’m thinking maybe running both is keeping me creative enough that I can do the rewrite without losing my mind. Rewriting Agnes damn near killed me. It needed all the rewrites I did, it could probably use another, but it went on too long without me doing anything creative because I was determined to get Agnes out of my life before I started anything new. Looking back, that was a mistake.

The problem in doing both is the story world. I have to be able to enter that story world and believe in it, even in the rewrite, and that’s really hard when I’m doing two books and keeping two worlds in my head. Music and collage help put me there, but there comes a point when that window closes and I’m looking at the book from the outside. That’s good for copy edits and polishing, bad if my rewrite requires me to still write new scenes or to radically change the old ones. So I have to make sure I finish a book before that window closes, and writing two at the same time just ups the chances that I won’t make it.

But the good news is, Zelda is shaping up again in my head, so I think maybe You Again, since it’s been such a long time, will just become a new book. The vestiges of the old world are in my head, but the book I’m writing now comes from where I am now, and so the story world that emerges this time will be different which is probably why it’s sticky now. And the real challenge is to cut out everything that’s going to drag me back to a dead story world. Those sixty-thousand words I had that were going to make this a fast book to write are dwindling with every rewrite because some of them were infodump (a lot of them were infodump) but mostly because Zelda’s different now and so is Rose, not a lot but some, and so I can’t use the parts that are too mired in the old story world. Holding onto those is going kill the story I can tell now.

And then part of it is just that I overwrote this sucker, using massive slugs of dialogue to convey infodump instead of writing scene. And I know better. So now I’m looking at the 7000 words I wrote to get James to Rosemore to meet Zelda, and I’m going to have to knock it down to 2500, 2000 would be better, and that’s not going to be easy. Well, taking off the first 2200 was easy because I started it in the wrong place, in James’s law office instead of on the road. So that was an easy cut. Then I went through and chopped off some more obvious infodump and now it’s down to 3500. A thousand, maybe fifteen hundred to go. It’s going to be a long night.

And after that, my word count will have dropped to 50K. If this keeps up, this book will be fifty words long. But very tight. No infodump. Onward and upward. Or at least onward.

Because I still don’t have that first Zelda scene right.