“At the heart of every story lies a dilemma.”
So begins the new book by Alan Watt, The 90 Day Rewrite. Latching onto the success of his first book, The 90 Day Novel, he attacks the rewrite process with the same vigor.
He starts off with a review of what we learned from his first book: the basics of story, character development, and language. Even those who’ve read his previous book will appreciate the recap, as he doesn’t rehash the information: instead he puts a fresh spin on problem vs. dilemma, resolution in story, and his take on how to resolve the protagonist’s issues. All of this happens in just a few pages, before Watt focuses on how to determine what to keep and get rid of as the writer turned editing surgeon takes over.
His concept remains the same: for 90 days, you have a new piece of inspiration to read, with new questions and suggestions to assist you as you excise your plot holes and amplify your characters. For example, he addresses the issue of story arc on day 15, and on day 32, he encourages you that the job of a writer during rewrite is simply to show up for the job, not to create perfection. Day 56, he reminds us that we can get “sick of our story.” By day 84, he bangs the drum that the frazzled rewriter needs to hear: “trusting the subconscious” as we work through our rewrite.
Is this book drastically different from The 90 Day Novel? Yes, and no. The 90 Day Rewrite focuses on different elements of creating a novel, which any writer will agree are vastly opposed. Writing involves creation; rewriting involves criticism. However, the layout and concept of both books remain similar, with their initial explanation on Watt’s writing theories, followed by daily passages.
I found the introduction of the book helpful, as it realigned my thoughts with Watt’s concepts, and reminded me why I enjoyed his first book. He wastes no time moving forward into the 90 day method. He also offers an outline guide to help with story pacing. Occasionally his daily passages get a bit mundane, such as imagining your story in a half-awake state, or fretting over titles. But more often than not, they offer up gems of wisdom, understanding, and creative suggestions that make up for the few that lack punch.
Watt once again nails the finer elements of plot and character and proves that his understanding of the writing process remains razor sharp. Anyone who writes, be it nonfiction or fiction, will enjoy this book, particularly when you find yourself in rewrite mode.