The Power of Rewriting

I will be the first to agree that taking over four years to write 100,000 coherent words of fiction seems excessive. Actually I wrote 145,000 words of fiction and only some of it was coherent, which is one of the many reasons why the rewrite is taking so long. But one good thing about taking that long is that I can really gain insight into my characters and my story. The bad thing is that after awhile, the story’s dead and I’m not rewriting, I’m just washing garbage, and I’m about three days away from washing garbage here, but another good thing is that I really love this book. When I finally let it go, it’s going to be the best I can do, which may not be good, but I’ll be proud of it anyway.

The other thing I’m doing this time which is causing me some pain is that I’m cutting entire scenes, but there’s an upside to that, too: it’ll give me outtakes to put on the blog. See, always a silver lining.

If you’re interested in seeing how much a scene can change, I’ve put the first scene up from 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 in the WiP section on this blog (see menu above). I wouldn’t read all of those if I were you, but a comparison of 2016 and 2020 is kind of startling. I really do just throw up my first drafts into the computer and clean them up later. Which is why anybody who attached to that throwaway draft of Lily should let go: even if I was going to write it, WHICH I AM NOT, it wouldn’t look anything like that in the end. How much would it change? Go read the first scene from 2016 and then read the current 2020 version. I know there are people who write a scene and that’s it, it’s good. I am not one of them. There’s blood on every semi-colon of my work.

Here’s the first scene page from the WiP’s menu up above. There are five versions of the first scene, but as I said before, I’d skip the middle three and just compare the first and the last. Then in the comments below you can discuss how the hell I ever got published in the first place.

45 thoughts on “The Power of Rewriting

    1. Should be fixed now. I did something wrong and I’m still not sure what it was, so I just deleted the link and started over. The problem is that all links work for me because I’m admin, so I check them, but the fact that they open for me is worthless.


  1. “…even if I was going to write it, WHICH I AM NOT…”

    And so it begins…. ::chortles::

  2. I think the one posted for 2016 must actually be 2020. And wow is it different from any of the others.
    Are the pajamas and socks gone or just moved?
    I’m glad Nita is not drunk
    Did you change all the death related names or just mort?
    This should tell you that anything you write is memorable….

    1. The one in 2016 that starts with Nita looking for her brother is from 2016.
      The one in 2020 pretty much starts the way most of the others do, with Nita looking through the car window. Her brother is gone from the book.

      1. I am unsure if the version I read that is labeled as 2020 was the one you just posted. Mort is gone but Nita has still had too much to drink and socks are mentioned. I thought I should mention that there may still be issues. It also doesn’t seem as different from the other versions as some who have evidently seen the 2020 version say. That said, I love this story and can’t wait to read the whole thing. Also, my birthday is March 28th so every time I read it feels like a birthday present. Thank you!

        1. I’m pretty sure it’s the latest. If it mentions that Jason’s mother is thrilled they broke up, it’s the latest.

    2. I enjoy all of Jenny’s writing, but I am uncomfortable with the main character, with whom I would like to empathize, starts out drunk. I can relate to a bad reaction from medication but having come from a family where several people have been alcoholics and having seen the damage they do – all while protesting they only had that last drink because it was socially impossible not to- it has been hard to get past that. And since I have not been reading all the drafts (like someone trying to wait for their wedding night, I have wanted to come to the book as an almost virgin), I do not know whether this problem with alcohol continues or stops here. I did read 2020 and it is fun. Nita really comes across as being drunk but I like Button (bless her manipulative heart) a lot better.

      That said I had trouble with Agnes in Agnes and the Hitman at first but came to really enjoy her.

  3. It’s so much richer and more solid now. I’m really looking forward to reading the whole story. Do hope you find an enthusiastic publisher this time round. (If not, at least you know you can publish it yourself: I’m sure it’ll find its audience.)

  4. I love all the info you give without seeming like you’re delivering it as such. I have a far better sense of where I am in the 2020 version than in the first. I like the high stakes that are set, too. I didn’t reread the middle versions, but I feel that there are fewer references to Nita’s drunkenness, which is good. (I’m not particularly into drunkenness as a situation in a story; too often it’s used to allow a character to make a one-time mistake in judgement. You don’t use it that way here.) I’m happy that you referenced pee-ing as an effect of coffee. I like Chloe. I like the language.

    I don’t care either way about the references to Witherspoon and Nita’s past history; fewer might be more effective only because their relationship isn’t that important to the story (as I know it).

    One continuing bit I really like is that Nita assumes that Vinnie was the murder victim.

    Thank you very much.

    1. You are very welcome.
      The relationship becomes a factor in the story mostly because his mother and girlfriend become major factors in the story. Poor old Jason is just trying to keep things together, badly.

  5. Sorry to put this here and be so off topic, but I think you’re having some technical issues over at

    1. Dear god, I have no idea what’s going on there. I’ve left phone, text, and e-mail messages for Mollie, so fingers crossed we can at least take it down for awhile. THANK YOU for letting me know. I never go over there.

      1. Your Lightbox Plus plugin is having issues, that’s about all I get from that. Maybe outdated code, but I’m guessing at that point.

        1. Oh, great. So it’s a plug-in malfunction and not a hack that will take down the computer of everybody who clicks on my site?
          Because that’s my main worry. Do no harm to others.

          1. I have no clue. 🙁 I just know it’s tied to the plugin. I dont know how/why it broke.

          2. Mollie got it. The plug-in for the book cover gallery went sideways. Thank you for figuring out what it was.

      2. And apparently many other sites are having the same issues with that file, so says the Googs.

      1. Damn him for his supportiveness.

        (And damn you, spellcheck, for saying that’s not a word.)

        Thanks for this post, Jenny. It is very timely, since I just got a very nice but slightly brutal editorial letter…

          1. Uh, this is the editor who bought the book. You can’t just switch those up. And I didn’t mean she was brutal–she was actually lovely and kind. I’m just dealing with a big learning curve switching to such a different genre.

            I had to take out all the cursing 🙁

      2. To quote a Bill Bailey song: “How can I feel pain when you’re being so supportive?”

  6. Eagerly awaiting reading it. If you don’t have a publisher why not self publish?

    1. My original publisher turned it down. Still a lot of people in NYC to send it to, if I ever finish the rewrite.

      1. You are going to finish it VERY SOON. Because you’ve just said you’re running out of steam with it. Must make yourself get to the end before it dies on you!

        1. Act Two is the real problem, but after that, Act Three and Four are short and pretty close to where they should be. Mostly, I just have to DO it instead of waffling around about it.

  7. I will reward myself with reading the 2020 version after I finish chapter 6 in the PMP book on schedule management.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Am looking forward to the full published version of Nita and the outtakes on the blog.

  8. I followed your advice and read 2016 and 2020.
    The first version was fun, fun,fun.
    But the 2020 gives so much more. A hint of who Nita might be. The strong emphasis on HER island. A great sense of who Nita is as a human. And Button is also much richer.
    At the end if the chapter I couldn’t wait to flip the page and go into the bar. Much more sense of place.
    The only think that blipped me was, “What are we doing here?”
    I knew there was a dead body out there. It didn’t seem a logical response from Button. Something about “this is not our case” would seem more logical.
    Thank you so much for allowing us to read them

    1. “This is not our case”isn’t in there. It was. Must go check.

      Thank you all for reading (g).

  9. Hmmmm. I’ll be the outlier and say I like the first version better? I may be influenced because I have been binge reading Spenser novels all week. Butithink I like it better because Nita comes across stronger to me in that one. She has a “I have a job to do and screw you if you get in my way” attitude that I really like. The second one where Nita is worried about coming across as odd is probably more realistically complex though.

    1. It’s shorter and colder. I can’t connect to Nita in the first one, which is bad. At this point, the 2020 one is probably overwritten–how can it not be?–but I like Nita better.

  10. I liked it in 2016 and I still like it now. The 2020 version gets all the same necessary information across and it feels light on its feet, which I think is an achievement given our protagonist is sitting in a car. 🙂

  11. I fail to understand a publisher that can’t seem to grasp that your readers will buy anything. You would think that they would be thrilled to have a built in base that are able, willing and ready to spend money.

    1. It’s the size of the base that’s the problem. I’ve been gone ten years. I think my audience is you guys at this point.

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