Saturday, December 26, 2015

Before You Market and Before You Sell, Rewrite it Ten or Twenty Times

Copyright © Robert W. Walker
Originally published by 1st Turning Point

Marketing and selling are all important. The same can be said of doing blogs, making yourself known and heard on Twitter and Facebook, and being involved in chat groups, but what if the product isn’t all it should be? What if you have gone to market too fast, too soon, too nonchalantly?
When in my classes, I plead, beg, urge, encourage my students not simply to write but to rewrite, many have no idea how much the rewrite means to me; they’ve no conception of how many rewrites I do to get a page, a scene, a chapter right. Not just right but perfectly right to my final perfect liking. Of course, it is not always easy to determine when it’s as good as it’s going to get, but there comes a moment in the many rewrites of a scene or chapter that screams at you—you’re done! But then you turn it over to a number of editors, and guess what? You’re not done.
However, you’ve now been away from the story long enough that you can be objective with it and yourself, so that when suggestions anew are made, you can deal with them without freaking out. The story or scene or chapter is not correctable inside your head, so the first and rough drafts have to be produced before you can ever get to the process of rewriting and revamping and reorganizing and re-this and re-that. Once it is out of the gray matter and on the white page, you now have product to work with…to mold and shape, to hammer and saw…and you see it and feel it as a product rather than nebulous, foggy thoughts and voices careening about your mind’s deepest recesses and corridors.
Some authors say they hate the rewrite. This is understandable because once a story’s been told (the plot is put on paper), it can’t help but get old; it gets older as your rewrite, too. However, in my own case, I get my best lines and most inspiration and insights into character(s) and best plot twists and the occasional ingenious idea or movement in the action or situation during the laborious rewrites. Whole incidents not there before worm their way in, insisting on being a part; whole new characters crop up, insisting on being in the story. Layers develop and the once straightforward story takes on a character of the onion needing to be peeled away so as to get at the core. Themes emerge that were not there until that sixth, seventh, or tenth rewrite.
This certainly has been the case with my Children of Salem, a purely historical novel set in Salem Witch Hunt days wherein our hero is trying to conduct a courting of his childhood sweetheart when her mother is excommunicated and locked up as a witch. And this was certainly true of my 11-book medical examiner series begun with Killer Instinct and predating Bones and Silence of the Lambs. This was definitely the case with my recently completed Kindle original, Titanic 2012 – Curse of RMS Titanic. The thing grew and grew with each successive rewrite, and I believe and feel with all my heart that it grew for the better and not the worse.
Chapter 30 – OMG…how many times did I have to rewrite Chapter 30, far more than all the other chapters, and why? For one, it needed a great deal of attention from the get-go and a lot of rewriting even before I turned it over to early readers/editors. Knowing I need all the help I can get and not shying from that fact, I had as many folks read the early, ugly drafts as I could manage to find. The book was torn from limb to limb, as my early readers did not spare the rod or spoil the child/book…nor did they spare the slings and arrows for its author. “How couuuld you?”/ “Call yourself an English Professor, do you?”/ “What were you thinking?”/ “Are you sure you want to be a writer?” — Okay, I exaggerate and none of my early readers are that blunt or harsh, but I knew what they were thinking.
Chapter 30 — as with other chapters just required so much attention in large part due to the fact I had no idea what I was talking about. I knew what I wanted to say, what I wanted to accomplish, but as my final editor pointed out, he being a genius with special effects of the science fiction order: “You’d be laughed off the face of the Earth had that gone to press.” Fortunately, Robert Farley Jr. was tough on me and blunt. It would have been the equivalent of a street cop using a frilly girly-girly gun on the job had I not had this friend’s help in the sci-fi areas of the futuristic scenes. As I said, I knew what I wanted to get across, had it all sketched out in fact—but man, was it was damned rough until my friend and early reader/editor got hold of it. Together we went back at it again and again as it was not so easy for any of us either to get this scene across and keep all of its surreal dream aspect intact along with the floating dead, zombies in a true Dead Zone. I needed help with the sub, with the breathing apparatus, the liquid air—its scientific name, with how men might find a dead zone and how it would look and feel, a zone inside Titanic where no life, not even microscopic, lived—where only my hero alone becomes the sole life form. While having fun with the discovery of the 1912 cargo of automobiles. Final writing was a matter of many honings.
So never discount the power of the Rewrite and what it does for your story, scene, chapter, novel.
I love hearing from you! What are your thoughts about revising? Leave a comment and let me know. And don't forget to check out our new book promo specials for December at

Award-winning author and graduate of Northwestern University, ROBERT W. WALKER created his highly acclaimed INSTINCT and EDGE SERIES between 1982 and 2005. Rob since then has penned his award-winning historical series featuring Inspector Alastair Ransom with CITY FOR RANSOM (2006), SHADOWS IN THE WHITE CITY (2007), and CITY OF THE ABSENT (2008), and most recently placed Ransom on board the Titanic in a hybrid historical/science fiction epic entitled Titanic 2012 – Curse of RMS Titanic. The original Ransom trilogy straddles the Chicago World’s Fair circa 1893, and has had enthusiastic reviews from Chicago historians and the Chicago Tribune, which likened “the witticism to Mark Twain, the social consciousness to Dickens, and the ghoulish atmosphere to Poe!” Rob has since published DEAD ON (also an audiobook), a PI’s tale of revenge as a reason to live—a noir set in modern day Atlanta, followed more recently by Bismarck 2013, an historical horror title, The Edge of Instinct, the 12th Instinct Series, and a short story collection entitled Thriller Party of Eight (also an audiobook).
Rob’s historical novel CHILDREN of SALEM, while an historical romance and suspense novel exposes the evil in mankind via the politics of witchcraft in grim 1692 New England, which one professional editor reviewed as: A title that only Robert Walker could make work—romance amid the infamous witch trials. The author followed this ANNIE’S WAR, an historical romance set in 1859, a tale from the point of view of the daughter of the infamous John Brown of Harpers Ferry notoriety.
Robert currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia with his wife, children, pets, all somehow normal. For more on Rob’s published works, see,, books. He maintains a presence on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Annie’s War - Love Amid The Ruins, by Robert W. Walker. At seventeen, Annie Hope Brown is a woman in 1859 when she conspires against the US government with her infamous father, John Brown, and his Kansas Raiders. These men are anti-slavery forces Annie helps prepare to pull off the first home-grown terrorist attack in the US. The attack on the US Armory at Harpers Ferry as seen through the eyes of a love-struck, idealist young lady who abhors slavery and falls in love with her father's right hand man, John Kagi. Annie's quest to see Kagi one last time before the dangerous raid is enabled by a spy for the government, a green Pinkerton agent recruit named Wesley Lane whose mission is to assassinate Annie's father as Brown has become a liability to men at the highest levels of government since the war in Bleeding Kansas.
The tables are turned topsy-turvy, however, when Wes Lane and Annie Brown travel from Pennsylvania to Virginia together (as they are at cross purposes with one another--and are both lying to one another). Their lives become even more complicated by their growing feelings for one another as they face the obstacles before them. A sweeping epic love story and historical thriller with the clock ticking out of control, reading like a western, this is the first in a series of three, possibly four ANNIE'S WAR books. It takes time to win or lose a war, and besides, the novel is layered, honest, and unflinching.
From the author of CHILDREN of SALEM - Love Amid the Witch Trials, City for Ransom, Shadows in the White City, City of the Absent, Bismarck 2013 - Hitler's Curse, Titanic 2012 - Curse of RMS Titanic, and the bestselling Instinct and Edge Series.

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