I love chili and stew and all things soup. While I often make them from scratch, they are also a great vehicle for leftovers. I don’t know about you, but to me, leftovers always taste better the next day. Lately, I’ve been thinking the same thing about my writing.
I’ve been on a roll – writing almost every day. The wordcount varies but that’s because quite a bit of those words are new/old words. At this point, Stay of Execution is approximately 85,000 words and I haven’t even written the end or the (hopefully) pulse pounding big reveal. What I have done is spend the last couple of weeks writing and rewriting the 10-15,000 words that are building up to that end. I am changing some, keeping some, moving some…. It’s like the roasted chicken that becomes pot pie or chicken soup the next day. The original meal has been reinvented as something else, something better.
Many writers edit as they go. One local writer who has been widely published told an audience that he usually spent the morning reading over what he had written the previous day. He would tweak and then, when he was satisfied, he would move on and write the next set of pages or chapters. I think this is a fairly common method. It’s structured and gives the writer a feeling of accomplishment. My last couple of weeks have been a little like that – except in overdrive.
I’ve moved the location of one climactic scene. I’ve altered the clues I’ve dropped. I’ve expanded scenes to build tension. Hopefully, by doing all this, I’ve amped up the readers’ questions. “I think I know who the killer is but…” “Wait, why is he doing that if he’s the killer?” The truth is, I’m okay with the reader figuring out who the killer is (or thinking they have) before the end – as long as I can still pull off an unexpected twist. The same chapters, reinvented and presented in a new way, are making SOE a better book.
So don’t throw away the words you wrote today – even if you don’t think they’re any good. Save them. Look at them again on another day. Maybe you won’t use them, but then again, they might be reworked to create something great. I love leftovers!