Monday, February 27, 2012

Harder than Anticipated (Now, there's a shocker)


So I have this WIP that I love. No, no: LOVE! I’m so head over heels in love with this WIP that when I realized it was sort of built on a shaky world with poorly motivated bad guys, I had to fix it. But the only fix was to scrap the draft I was working on, and start over from scratch.

At first, I thought this was a brilliant idea because I am completely IN LOVE. Now that I’m 10K into it, I realize that I R dumb.

I thought this would be easy for a few reasons. First, of course, is my utter and complete love of the project. This one qualifies as a baby. I’m going to cry when I get the inevitable rejection letters for this project (I know, I’m really setting myself up for some major pain down the road here). So I thought that because I love it sooooo much, it would be easier to rewrite it, reimagining the awesome from last fall.

I also thought this rewrite would be a good idea because my voice has changed. You have to realize that the first novel I wrote thinking it might have a chance at publication I wrote in third person boring because everyone from my childhood had written that way. I guess I must have thought it the polite and proper way to write (Wow, when did I become a Victorian era lady from London?). Suffice it to say that me and third person (boring, entertaining, or otherwise) do not mix. I wrote three books in third person. Then I said, “oh to hell with publishing” and I wrote a book just for me. And my voice changed. My voice changed throughout that whole project, right into the next (abandoned) project. By the time I started in on my SuperHero WIP I knew it was changing faster than the Climate, and all I would be able to do was mitigate Sea Level rise.

And then, it settled. It settled on overwritten, but I feel like it finally worked. I was at the 2/3 mark of the Super Hero of Awesome project (not it’s actual name). But to make the last third of the novel work, I needed that world building. If I had just finished, it would need so much RetCon*, it could sell tickets and people would come dressed up in their Steam Punk costumes.

Enter the rewrite.

I thought it would just go awesome because I had so much more I wanted to put in. I’ve never rewritten a project from top to bottom (maybe I should have started on a smaller project), so perhaps my naivety can be forgiven. But let me just tell you, a rewrite is hard, like pull out your fingernails hard.

For me, the problems are that I remember how I wrote certain parts the first time, and I liked them. It wasn’t like I’d done a particularly bad job the first time, there just wasn’t enough. So the whole time I’m wondering “Is this enough? Is it too much? Am I ruining the parts about it that everyone loves with my messing around like this? Is my voice really different enough to justify starting over from scratch? Oh crap I forgot to put in that pivotal part about that alien race so there can be more tension in the climax. Why do I suck so much? Uh-oh, did the first try suck this bad too? Was it worse? Was I just completely incapable of seeing how crappy my voice is?”

It ain’t pretty, I’ll tell you that.

So just like every other part of writing, rewriting is hard.

*RetCon is a term for retroactive continuity. It’s the “I wave my magic wand and the crap at the beginning of the novel doesn’t count because someone had a brilliant idea right at the end.” It’s not a good tool.

17 comments:

  1. You need to trust your instinct. I'm doing the same thing on a much smaller scale (just a 2000 word section to rewrite), but the principle is the same. You know what needs changing, you just have to give yourself a bit of time to work it out. All writing teaches you something for the next draft or the next project. Good luck!

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    1. Yeah, my instinct, I have such a hard time with that, but the evil little voice is an evil little voice.

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  2. I feel your pain! I also have a project that needs a re-write, and it was causing me so much drama, I had to put it on the back burner while I edit another story.

    Take a deep breath, and write without analyzing. It's a difficult thing to do, but the only way to get over the hurdles is to keep jumping. I have no doubt that your finished product will be everything you want it to be and more!

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    1. It seems ridiculous that a story I already know the ending of (and most of the pit stops too) can be so hard to write. But there it is, it's hard.

      And yes, it's really hard to write without analyzing.

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  3. You do have to have those foundations. Rewrites are hard. Good luck.

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    1. Yes, silly things, they should be easy, but the world must be built properly (you know, so I can actually have a motivated bad guy).

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  4. I have yet to finish a manuscript feeling the same love at the end that I felt in the beginning. The editing phase always takes its toll, but I'm a believer in it. It makes the difference between a good idea and a good book.

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    1. It's interesting that you bring up the whole love thing. See, I have this story that I NEED to get out into the world. I wrote it, edited it and queried it. That did not go well. I still love it, and my rejections taught me that it needed major revision. I put it back into the queue, and it's slated for rewriting (it's next in line after my WIP). I thought I was done with it, but it won't let me go. I keep writing other stories to see if I can get it out of my head, but it just keeps coming back. I've felt obsessively about it all along. and I feel exactly the same way about it as I always have. I love it. I can't not rewrite it because I love it so much. It is such an important project that all the hardship and rejection is really water under the bridge. So strange.

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  5. I feel your pain- but you can do it! Me, I'm not so sure about. Rewriting is awful; I don't know how some people say it's the best part!

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    1. Oh Megan, I'm certain you can do it. It might take a while. It might take a ton of heart, but I'm certain you can put enough words together to make it work. You can.

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  6. The first story I tried to revise has ended up needing a total rewrite. I've chickened out and set it aside for now. You can do this. But yeah, it's hard!

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    1. You know, time is really important to understanding these fickle creatures. My WIP got put aside for when I thought I was going to finish my PhD in just a couple of months (really, I put my whole life aside). It did a lot of growing in my mind while I was working on other things, and when I came back to it, it was easy for a while. But then I'd written myself into the proverbial corner and it was time to start fresh. What I'm trying to say, is setting them aside for a while can really help them. I'm very impatient when it comes to writing, so I'm pretty much the last person to follow my own advice...

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  7. I have about three scenes left in my current WIP, and then I will start the re-write/fleshing out/cleaning up phase before the hard core editing. I can imagine your pain...and in about a week I will most likely be waist deep in it right along with you.

    I promise to punch your "evil little voice" in the nose so you can get some work done, if you will return the favor...

    I firmly believe that when a project stirs up so much passion in your soul, it has to be finished. There is just too much potentional there. A lot of writers have had to re-write all, or huge chunks of their (ultimately successful) books! It is part of birthing your baby. When it is all over, the memory of this pain will fade...

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    1. Deal, I'll punch your little voice, and you punch mine.

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  8. I know just what you mean!! I'm 33K into my sequel (not my current WiP... I've taken a break from this sequel). And then I realized that I needed to rewrite it. Like, COMPLETELY rewrite it. And Oh. My. God. is it a pain! Good luck!!

    By the way, I've got two awards for you on my blog at this link: http://writeskatedream-jmckendry.blogspot.com/2012/02/komf-winners-awards.html

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  9. That does sound like hard work! I can't imagine starting over from scratch. You're brave. :) Good luck!

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  10. second guessing your original great ideas is tough! but we end up liking our changes and having "ah" moments after rewrites too =)

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