Monday, 27 February 2012

Writer - Rewrite! Ruth Symes / Megan Rix

                                   Writer - Rewrite!
                              Ruth Symes / Megan Rix

When I started my writing career I hated re-writing. I wrote so fast it seemed to me that it was a whole lot easier to just write a new book than re-write the one I’d just written – which I was usually more than a teensy bit tired of anyway.

 But then a book or two down the line I started to think rewriting might not be so bad after all. Not just tweaking mind – a proper rewrite.  My opinion of rewriting changed  - due to a few rewriting success stories.

The Mum TrapThe first thing that happened was that after two books being taken and me thinking I’d cracked it the next 3 or 4 couldn’t find a publishing home. Audrey Adams was an editor at Andersen at the time and she kindly made a few editorial suggestions and the next thing I knew the horror story I’d written about the dangers of blind-dating (this was in 2000 – yikes – so long ago!) had turned into a comedy and Andersen published it as The Mum Trap – still in print 10 years on.

The next re-writing success story is even better:

I’ve always written for both print and broadcast and I wrote a script called ‘Merry Meet’ while on the MA in TV Scriptwriting course at Leicester DeMontfort University. Merry Meet was the pilot for a one hour TV show about an ex-witch trying to lead a normal life without magic. The script was selected by the Screenwriters Festival as one of the scripts they wanted to promote that year. They arranged for it to have a professional script reading and I was presented with a script report on my work.

Editors at publishing houses I realised, as I read the report, even the ones who seem fierce, are really sweet kittens compared to the killer dog savagery of a script report writer. No holds barred – that report went for the jugular and tore my script to shreds.

Afterwards I was told by a surprised producer that it was one of the kinder reports and I shouldn’t be so sensitive about my work – who knew???

Anyway, I started to rewrite Merry Meet and as I did so I began to think about what my lead character might have been like before she gave up magic. Was she born a witch or did she become one? And as I was thinking this I suddenly knew just what she was like as a girl and even what she sounded like.
I finished re-writing my one hour script but at the same time I started writing the first chapter and synopsis of a children’s novel about a young witch.

Piccadilly had just published one of my picture books - about a dinosaur called Little Rex - and so I mentioned this idea I had for a series of books about a witchling called Bella Donna to them, and Ruth Williams, the editor there, thought they might be very interested – but would like it written for a slightly younger market than I’d been thinking of.

More re-writes later ‘Bella Donna’ Book 1 in the Coven Road series was published in October 2010, ‘Too Many Spells’ was published in April 2011 and ‘Witchling’ came out at the beginning of October – a fourth’s just been commissioned.

As for the script – that isn’t doing much - although I might just need to take another look at it. And that blind dating horror idea could be good – maybe it’s time for some more rewriting!

Ruth's website is at
Megan's website is at


agman said...

rewriting may be the way to go? enjoyed your post

Charmaine Clancy said...

Rewriting is going to the gym, there hardest part is getting your mindset to just dpi it... once you're there it's easier than you thought.
Wagging Tales

Susan Price said...

Hi! - I write this from my office at De Montfort University! Loved your post, as I learned to love rewriting in a simliar way - but much longer ago!

JO said...

I'm with Charmaine on this one - rewriting is dreadful in theory, but quite fun when you get down to it.