What was that again?

Somebody asked me how the rewrite is going, and I had to say that I’m having more fun rewriting Fast Lane than anything ever.

I always start out gangbusters, going from zero to sixty in a hurry no matter what I’m working on—screenplay, novel, short story—and then grinding it out in the middle. As the end comes into view, though, I pick up speed because the characters, who were formless and void at the beginning, start telling me things I need to know.

Lots of the time, what they tell me renders stuff from that gangbusters beginning irrelevant. Not a problem, since they also tell me what is relevant.

For example, the first time around I didn’t really know what Clay and Lara were going to say to each other right after they met, so I just wrote a bunch of description. Stuff like, “they talked about this and laughed about that,” without going into detail. Without even using quote marks most of the time. That made it easy to maintain my breakneck pace for the time being.

Of course, the people in my writers group all noted in the margins that they’d like to see what the two characters were actually saying. They were right. The only problem was, I didn’t know.

Slowly, but surely, Lara and Clay’s voices rang clearer and truer as the pages passed. They matured, in a way—and so did their relationship. Eventually, they talked differently with each other than with other characters.

So now I know what they say and how they say it.

Creating Lara and Clay and all the characters Lara meets on her journey has been a blast. And during this rewrite, I’ve even gotten to make up a couple more characters. That’s one of the great things about fiction: You get to just make up people you might like to meet. Or definitely would not ever want to meet. Either way, it’s fun. And in the process, the characters you create end up feeling real to you.

And, hopefully, to your readers—which is the whole point of rewriting. The icing’s on the cake; now it’s time to swirl it into aesthetically pleasing patterns.

So, anyway, that’s how the rewrite is going. And I think it shows on the page.

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