Okay, maybe "love" is too strong a word, but for much of the past year, as I've readied my novel 'The Delta Chain' for publication, I've been rewriting and self-editing. Sometimes there's crossover between the two, but for the most part they're two very different tasks requiring two very different hats - or alternatively a writer/editor Jekyll/Hyde personality split (not recommended.)
The end result of rewriting is that it gives an author the potential to turn an unwieldy manuscript into a leaner, meaner reading machine. And you've got to love that.
A few years back I read an interview with Jeffrey Archer in which he revealed he wrote 17 drafts of his novels. I remember thinking at the time that the first draft must have been clinically dead. However, if I've learned anything in the years since, it's that three of the most important techniques in the crafting of fiction are rewriting, rewriting and rewriting.
In between those manic - or laid-back (whatever gets you through the night) rewriting sessions, learning the craft is also about reading and studying techniques by those who have been successful.
I don't need to mention Strunk and White's 'The Elements Of Style,' just about everyone else has and there's no argument here. It should be compulsory reading in all schools as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps what I can stress to newbies is that this one needs to be re-read at least once or twice a year because it pays to keep it constantly fresh in your mind.
Two other, very different books that work for me are - firstly, Stephen King's 'On Writing.' Always entertaining and witty about the 'biz, King's pearls of wisdom on the craft of fiction, the writing life, the publishing industry, his own experiences and his no-holds-barred opinions, make learning fun.
Also, for me, 'Self Editing For Fiction Writers: Second Edition: How To Edit Yourself Into Print,' by Renni Browne and Dave King. It's clear and concise and has practical exercises that will get your motor running. Like the other two books mentioned, it won't teach you how to create stories, but it will guide you on how to write better, how to get increased value with each new draft, how to don an editor's hat and self-edit your work.
If there was a reality TV series for novelists then the judges might very well say, "Write to win."
Writing to win means mastering the art of rewriting. That means getting into the rhythm of the seemingly endless drafts. Once that kicks in, all of a sudden awkward words and phrases that should never have been there stick out like dog's ears. All of a sudden, stilted dialogue cries out to you for a makeover. That's what I found. You'll slash and burn. Hopefully you'll become ruthless and mean but maintain just the right level of balance. You'll create new scenes that fit the mood and pace much better than the ones they're replacing.
Granted, it's not always that much fun but there will be good days.
Another good thing about the books I mentioned above is that they gave me a thirst for seeking out other books on the writing craft, so if there's texts of this kind that helped you along the way, then I'd love to hear about them.
A well known scribe once said he didn't enjoy writing but he enjoyed "having written." This past year there's been times when I felt exactly the same way about the rewrites...