Cabbages and Kings

A diary by the authors of the Louis Kincaid series

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Location: Fort Lauderdale/Elk Rapids, Florida and Michigan, United States

We are the New York Times bestselling authors of the Louis Kincaid series and other stand alone thrillers. We have taught writing at major conferences for ten years.

Friday, August 11, 2006

You MIGHT need to rewrite if...

Hey folks,
Excuse my absence but I am heavy into rewrites this week. Kelly also does rewrites on our books but she already finished her parts. Sigh. So what else is new? So this is Kelly blogging away here today.

Take it, Kel:

You might need to rewrite...

If you have a line in your manuscript even close to: The evil killer bent over the lifeless body of the woman and cut out her heart...”

You might need to rewrite...

If you have ever written: “She looked at herself in the mirror. She had long, golden locks and sapphire blue eyes and a mouth that was just a bit too small. She reminded herself of a young but more lush Alice Faye...”

You might need to rewrite...

If you have more than two subplots going in your first novel.

You might need to rewrite...

If you have introduced more than three characters in your first chapter.

You might need to rewrite...

If you need a chart and an eraser-pen to keep track of your dead bodies.

You might need to rewrite...

If you’re trying to tie in a Russian spy story, a serial killer in Seattle, a vengeful woman who was raped twenty years ago and a small-town sheriff looking for love in all the wrong places.

You might need to rewrite...

If your dialogue between two main characters takes place in the kitchen, over coffee with frequent mentions of 1)Someone else’s baby 2) An ex-husband who never appears in the book or 3) Lack of a character’s sex-life.

You might need to rewrite...

If you get past page two without ever mentioning or somehow indicating WHERE the book takes place.

You might need to rewrite...

If you get past chapter two without introducing your main character.

You might need to rewrite...

If you get past chapter three or three without telling the reader what TIME of YEAR it is.

You undoubtedly need to rewrite...

If you believe that rewriting destroys spontenaity.

And you REALLY need to rewrite...

If you are the kind of writer who thinks they always get it right the first time.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Jake said...

Absolutely, Kelly!

Looks like I'm due for a rewrite...

2:21 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

"You might need to rewrite...

If you’re trying to tie in a Russian spy story, a serial killer in Seattle, a vengeful woman who was raped twenty years ago and a small-town sheriff looking for love in all the wrong places."

Now you've got me thinkin'...

Nice to hear from you Kelly. Just spent the week up on Higgins Lake. Kris mentioned to me once that you were interested in buying a place on Houghton (who isn't?). Just FYI, there's a condo in my sister's complex for sale on Higgins.

Best,
Mark Terry

4:14 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

These are actually good tips for all types of writers.
Thanks!

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love what you've said here. Would comment more, but it looks like I might need to rewrite.

-Darwyn, a guy who won an umbrella from you at Bouchercon Chicago

5:14 AM  
Blogger Bernita said...

Safe...but only on first base.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Mike H said...

How about "If you're first chapter is booooooring, you might need a rewrite."

MikeH--still trying to make something exciting happen on page three

3:21 AM  
Blogger PJ Parrish said...

Mike,
Yikes...well, yeah, it might help if something interesting happens in the first chapter. But don't feel bad. I had the same thing happen with the first mystery I tried to write. I wrote 263 pages and sent it to my new agent. She wrote back and told me it was terrible. Seems I had forgotten to kill someone off. True story.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

What if the small town sheriff falls in love with a serial killer from Seattle?

You could call it HEADLESS IN SEATTLE.

I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

12:52 PM  
Blogger James said...

Reminds me of my first novel (the REAL first novel, the one that never got published). I couldn't decide if the lead character should be silver haired and silver tongued U.S. Senator or the young and beautiful lawyer who gets way too close to him. I decided it would be both . . . no wonder it sits on my shelf. Jim Grippando

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! Right on, baby!

You definitely need a re-write if you hear yourself saying, "Do I have to send the first 50 pages? Because my book gets better as it goes along."

8:30 AM  
Blogger PJ Parrish said...

Nancy,
Your comment reminds me of something I was asked once at a workshop: "Should I send an agent my first 50 pages or my best 50 pages?"

Good grief. There's nothing you can say back to that.

12:17 PM  
Blogger David J. Montgomery said...

I would guess that most novels go past Chapter 3 without ever saying what time of year it is. I can't say I've ever seen that as a problem. Unless it's important to the plot (e.g., heat or snow), I don't think I'd mention it in the first few chapters either.

I like the rest of the rules, though. :)

I just read a very splashy debut thriller that introduced so many characters (and so much backstory) in the first couple chapters that I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on. Not surprisngly, I quit by Chapter 3.

8:02 PM  

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