New? Begin with lesson one.
The biggest things you will need to fix during the rewriting phase is filling in plot holes and correcting sequences that are out of order. No matter how throughly you planned out your story, they're still bound to turn up during the drafting phase. As you write, new ideas form, old ones shift, and characters take off in unexpected directions because your subconscious mind is always working ahead and making connections you might not see consciously.
It is to be expected, especially when writing your first few stories. It's a natural part of the creative process, and this is one reason rewrites and edits are essential steps. Plot holes and trouble in the sequence of events aren't disasters at this stage. All it takes is a keen eye to find them and a bit of work to make these changes fit into your narrative without lapses in logic or flow.
How do I know when I have a plot hole?
Plot holes are defined as an obvious mistake or a missing element in a work of fiction. It's something in your story that doesn't make sense as it is written due to a lack of proper motivation, events left unwritten, missing details, characters acting out of character, events being described out of order, elements of world building or cultural elements left out of the description, or any number of things which can be missing or "off" and disrupt the logic of what happens.
As an example, in the original short story version of "The Icarus Project" published on The Writer's Hood back when it was still open, Dr. Daedalus allowed his then 19-year-old only daughter to join a potentially dangerous salvage mission simply because he was under a time crunch, and she was trying to wheedle her way onto the crew. It was stupid, but I wasn't much older than I was writing her, so the illogic of it didn't register with me at the time. In the current draft of the coming novel, I've fixed this plot hole by aging Pyrha a bit and giving her sufficient training. Her inclusion in the salvage mission makes more sense with Pyrha being a 23-year-old graduate student who has completed and passed the salvage training course multiple times in order to placate an over protective father with the power to veto her inclusion on rotation.
When you read through your manuscript with fresh eyes, make note of anything that makes you think, "Wait. What?" That's a pretty strong clue you have a plot hole in need of filling.
How can I write things out of order though?
Order and pacing are up to the author, but you have to remember what information your reader has at what point in the story will influence how they read it. Sometimes you do want to surprise your reader, but you also don't want the twist to throw them out of the story either. Also, unless there is a specific reason to avoid chronological order, it's easiest for you as the writer and the reader to follow in the sequence of events as they happen.
That's not to say you have to write your story in chronological order. Many writers compose a story in scenes as they occur to them. But when you go to format your story, keep the order events happen in mind. Tools such as flashbacks and in medias res are best used sparingly and with preparation in mind. Otherwise sequencing issues can lead to plot holes.
My story is all out of order! How do I fix this?
First off, don't panic. Goodness knows I did when I first realized the next to last draft of Right of Succession was twisted and tied in knots from the third chapter to the end. But with careful thought and a bit of rewriting, you can straighten your story out in a way that's logical and flows nicely.
As you read through your draft, mark places where you notice sequencing issues with some kind of flag. Write a short phrase or sentence signifying which scene is flagged. This is easiest if you've printed your story out, but it's not impossible on a file. Once you've gone all the way through your story, look back over these notes and figure out their proper order. Create a plan detailing which scenes need to be moved where, and then start going back through and reordering the scenes, editing and rewriting transitions and the scenes themselves as needed.
What about plot holes? How do I fix them?
The fix for plot holes depends on their cause. Is a character acting outside their established personality or without a logical motivation? Either change their reaction or give them proper motivation behind it. Your reader can tell when your characters are dancing to your plot and not the other way around. Does a turn of events make no sense because you forgot to add in a detail? Just find a way to add it in. Do your characters know things they couldn't possibly know? Find a way to get the information to them
Just as another example, Ralic was a problem when it came to plot holes. His character doesn't mesh all that well with his personality as a young man, and he kept acting on information he couldn't have. The fix for the first is more implied than anything, but I do make it clear he used himself as a test subject before he began experimenting on his vassals. What are the chances of a man changing his neural network without going a bit insane? The fix for the second plot hole surrounding Ralic was more involved. It required the creation of a whole new subplot involving characters only mentioned in earlier drafts. However, this was a blessing in disguise as it will play heavily into the plot of the next four to eight novels in the series.
The idea of rewriting an entire novel can be daunting, especially on the heels of finishing your first draft. I understand this. I've been there, but you can't let it stop you. Take things slow. Think about them and make plenty of notes before you get started, and just do it. It's easier than it first seems.
As always if you have questions or comments, please chime in below. I try to respond to all comments within twenty-four hours.
Continue on to inconsistencies and redundant material.
A. B. England is a novelist, all around geek, avid crafter, and the home-schooling mother of two.
She is an autistic creator with a love of mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
Yekara Series Book 2
The Icarus Project
Rough Draft Progress
77384 / 75000
Myth & Science Collection
Icarus Series Book 2
Sketched w/ Some Drafting
Yekara Series Book 3
Myth & Science Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Icarus Trilogy Book 3
Supers Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Yekara Series Book 4