First round edits, part 6: Rewriting the ending.

For those of you who don't know, I'm in the middle of first-round edits for The House of a Thousand Dolls, and I'm blogging about the process. Feel free to chime in with questions, suggestions or general awesomeness.

A couple of editing posts ago I talked about the big picture pass I did. Well that pass took a LONG time, and the main reason that it took a long time was that I decided (all on my own) to completely rewrite the ending.

Step 6: Rewriting the Ending.

Early on in the brainstorming process, Sarah made a suggestion. It was a very simple one, about the sort of scene she felt would really add to the book. The original suggestion wasn't even about the end, it was just  a "hey, this would be a great scene to put somewhere in the book" sort of thing.

To say that her suggestion had an impact on me would be like saying that the lightning bolt had an impact on Ben Franklin's kite.

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It electrified me. I suddenly knew that using the suggestion at the end of the book would fix a lot of the book's problems and make it far more epic.  But there was one small catch. It would mean rewriting the last third of the book.

At this point, I was still fixing easy things and combining characters. I was full of energy and optimism and rewriting the ending felt totally doable.

Little did I know.

Since I'm a systematic sort of person, I developed a plan.

Step 1: Fix everything else

Step 2: Do the big picture pass up to the part where I would have to start changing the ending.

Step 3: Polish up the first two-thirds and make sure all the threads were in place so I knew what (and who) had to be in the end.

Step 4: Write the end.

And the plan worked! By the time I got to step four, I had a very clear idea of what had to happen in the end. I still wasn't sure how my main character would get out of the mess I was about to put her in, but I knew I could figure it out when I got there.

There was only one snag. I was TIRED. I had been editing for several weeks by this time, and since I'm naturally obsessive, I had been pushing myself pretty hard. Plus the coffee shop had been really hectic lately, and I wasn't getting enough sleep.

It didn't help that there were so many new words to be written. In fact, by the time I was well into the end, the stupid thing felt much more like a first draft than a rewrite. And I HATE first drafts. I have to write them fast and messy because I know if I take my time, I'll get frustrated and throw my computer into the wall.

But fast and messy wasn't really an option for this book. I had to sit down and write the new words carefully, making sure everything wrapped up and all the threads came together.

Somehow, I did it. And I was right; the new end is amazing. But to be honest, I don't remember much about writing it. And once it was done, I shoved the whole thing into a virtual drawer, slept for twelve hours straight and took a week off.

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Have you ever had a project that totally fried you?

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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.