Monday, 7 July 2008

New beginning or waste of time?

After six weeks of wondering where the hell my novel is headed and whether or not I can knit all of the bits and pieces together into something coherent and compelling, I have decided to do something radical, if not completely insane. I have decided to start again.

I've never been big on the rewrite. I've always thought myself far too lazy to start from scratch, but I wrote the book in bits and pieces and tried to put them all together at the end. It seemed a good idea at the time, but there are so many holes that I've lost track of them. So, with close to 110,000 words saved on my memory stick, just in case, I have started at page one. I will likely incorporate bits and pieces of the original but it's now a new ball game. Same characters, same idea, same basic structure but starting over. This time I'm going to write it chronologically and see what happens. Have any of you ever done this or am I nuts?

11 comments:

Leatherdykeuk said...

That's exactly what i did with "The Ungodly Child."

After the start-from-scratch rewrite it's being published as 'An ungodly child"

Sarah*G* said...

I am in the middle of a re-write at the moment. I cut all but 11,000 words and am re-writing everything else. I am on a real flow now, thanks to the 100 words a day challenge and deciding to start over was the right decision for me to make.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Yes, I did it in a manner of speaking. Tallied up 87,000 words and have now started again, with bits and pieces taken from the original.

CJ xx

Captain Black said...

Here are a couple of ideas that might help you to focus on the plot of your story. I'm a great believer in re-use, rather than full-blown rewriting.

1. Write a synopsis, if you haven't already done so. This will really help you to summarise the key points of the story, and hopefully spot any holes in it.

2. Storyboard the main events of the plot. This is a technique the TV/film industry use a lot. Admittedly it's usually done before the story is written, but post-application of storyboards can help too.

I've used both of these techniques, though not always on the same project. Writing a synopsis was a life-saver, as I spotted two plot holes: one major and one minor! Storyboarding is not everyone's cup of tea, but I use it extensively.

I wish you good luck and renewed vigour with your novel.

Debs said...

I've done this too. I agree with captain black about writing a synopsis. It certainly helped me to keep track of what I was doing and to whom.

ChrisH said...

Dreary though it is you should remember that old adage that great books are not written but rewritten. Yes, it's painful to start again but you will end up with a better book for it (btw, this is a 'repeat as necessary exercise'!)

B.E. Sanderson said...

I've never done a complete rewrite, but I've scrapped whole sections of a couple books and rewritten those. You're not nuts. Do whatever you have to do to make the book the best it can be. =o)

L-Plate Author said...

I agree, it's better to start again with something that you have been working on, and you have worked on it a lot to get that many words, than to scrap it all and start again with a new idea. You can make it better.

Being one that goes back over draft after draft, you'll know what is best to do as it evolves again. It's that gut instinct that makes you a writer.

Good luck! x

Helen Shearer said...

Thanks everyone. It's slightly less daunting to know that all of you have been there to some extent or another. I've never used a storyboard but I think it might make it easier to see the big picture. Even though this feels a bit like a step back, it also feels strangely liberating. I was afraid to throw out that which I had worked so hard on, but now I feel like I can take the good stuff, scrap the rest and finally get on with it.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Nothing you've already written is wasted as it has given you good bits to carry forward and shown what bits won't work.

I completely re-wrote a novel to change it from third to first person. It's what got it published.

Fiona said...

I am doing the same thing. Nothing is ever lost if you have a folder called 'Stuff to Use Again.' Better then deleting all your hard work.
Waste not, want not ... as my granny used to say.