Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Starting From Scratch, Kind Of (The Mega-Rewrite)

A lot of publishing is about waiting. We send out queries and wait. Get requests for partials or fulls and wait. Our agent submits to editors and we wait. We revise, send to our editor, and wait.

Best thing to do with the waiting is work on something else. One thing I've been chipping away at (on an off-and-on basis) is a near-complete rewrite of my very first manuscript.

(Some of you remember Fingerprints, right?)

Can someone coin a term for the writerly version of beer-goggles? I've revised and re-revised this thing so many times I've lost count. It got better each time, and I don't think it was ever terrible.

I still believe in the characters 100%. The world, too. Even the plot, largely.

But the execution ... ugh. Very "what was I thinking?" in places.

I think this is okay. It's not beating up on myself. It's acknowledging the skills I've gained and developed over the past three years. If I weren't capable of writing better now, I'd be worried.

So, the solution?

A blank document. A different opening scene. The same general story, but with new ideas for added tension and conflict. And yes, here and there, some words that are worth keeping.

This is kind of intimidating in some ways. I really hope I can get it up to snuff, so there are lingering worries that maybe it still won't cut it. Hopefully I can just let those doubts motivate me to silence them through sheer awesomeness.

It's also tricky because the original is so cemented in my mind. I want to change enough without changing too much, and there's no telling whether my internal gauge is calibrated right on that count.

Thank goodness for critique partners.

(Yes, Mindy, this means that someday you'll have to read the darn thing AGAIN.)

Have any of you ever done a from-scratch rewrite? Any advice for making it work?

3 comments:

Rick Pieters said...

Often thought about doing that. Even have heard some writers say they do it with every revision (other than copy-editing.) Seems monumental, but basically you're just writing a new story with the advantage of knowing the characters and plot already. So you have the armature. Now just write the story "based on a novel by RC Lewis."

Good luck with it. Hope you'll share what you experience doing this.

Paige Foreman said...

That's so awesome you're re-writing your first story! It is by far one of the best concepts like...ever. :-D
I don't think I'd have the patience to do that so you go girl. -roots-

Mike Lewis said...

I love it. You put all kinds of time and effort into something, only to realize you didn't make the proper allowances for something, or that you really could have executed something better, and the more you try to fix it, the more you realize all you have is something that has simply been patched a thousand times. And a lot of times, you then end up having to work in the confines of the patches. It's at that point you realize the best thing to do is...

... START OVER.

When I was a computer graphics lab assistant, some students really dreaded it when I made that suggestion. But in the end, it really is the better thing to do.