Rewriting When It's Godawful - Page 6

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Thread: Rewriting When It's Godawful

  1. #51
    Ok, so this is my story regarding this topic. I write a book series 11 years ago, and I had never written a novel in my life. In fact, I'd never written any story before. The reason I wrote it was because I had a dream that inspired me, and before I knew it, I created characters I loved and plot that was solid. It was 109,000 words, more than I'd ever written before all at once. I posted it to a site (in its rough stage mind you) and it got me like 300+ followers in a couple months. I even started writing the second book, and I got around 90k words into it before I noticed something had gone terribly wrong with the plot. (Yeah I'm a pantser, and this happens to us all the time)

    People loved the story, but when I went to go back and read it, I HATED THE WAY I WROTE IT! Everything was wrong: the creepy/cheesy dialogue, the voice, the confusing 3rd person omniscient PoV, the constantly shifting characterization, the deux ex machina magic system, everything. After writing that book, I noticed all of this without being told, because I do read and I realized I levelled up. I tried revising, but I was not happy with the result. I eventually pulled it down, stuck all the word documents into a folder on a backup drive and left it alone.

    A decade goes by, I have a new career as a software developer, a parent dies, other tragic deaths and events take place, and my creativity takes a nosedive. I never get around to rewriting the story, and I wasn't sure I wanted to. This year during lockdown, the creative muse smacked me across the face one evening, and I sat down and started writing a sci-fi romance. I wrote 100k words and I wasn't done, but when I went back to read earlier chapters I noticed pacing problems. This story wasn't really something I wanted to take seriously, it was something I wanted to write to get the creative juices flowing again. I had levelled up again.

    I wanted to really hone in on my craft, so I started reading writing blogs, watching authortube, reading books I wasn't interested in, but liked the writing style. I got so many ideas, and then I remembered that book I wrote a long time ago. Even after 10 years, the plot really stuck with me. I loved the characters and the world I developed, despite all the flaws. It was so good that people I got to know from my first time posting it would tell me they still think about it as well. When a book does that to other readers and yourself, and the plot stands the test of time, you know you may have a gem.

    I decided I'd revisit the book. I read it, cringed, but knew exactly what I'd cut and how I'd write it. I changed the point of view to first person for a more "voicy" narration, and to add more mystery to the plot. I kept the idea and the plot, but rewrote every character arc and even deleted/added some. The book ended up being 126,000 words. A little long, but it's the first draft and I'm an over-writer (if you can't tell from this post). I wrote it in one month from May to June. I let it sit for a month, sent it to my critique partners and then reread it. I liked the story, but the pacing was so bad I couldn't salvage it. I rewrote everything, changing narration to dialogue/action, doing way less telling, adding more interesting subplots at the suggestions of critique partners and alpha readers.

    It took another month of writing for around 5-6 hours on the weekdays, and 8-12 hours on the weekends to get the second draft finished. Then it took another 2 months to revise the book twice. By this time everything was tightened up and the pacing was fantastic. It was ready for beta readers. I found 25 random beta readers online (everywhere from Twitter, Goodreads, old contacts) and gave them access to comment on the google doc. Not only did everyone finish it, the reception was incredible. Here I thought I had a niche book I didn't think many people would enjoy, only to have strangers not able to put it down. There's no better feeling than pouring every bit of work and energy into something and having it show in the form of praise and complements (and suggestions, criticism, corrections, and comments littered throughout the document). I fully expected at least half of these people to hate it. I've received most of the feedback I requested, still waiting on two more people (one of which wanted to read it again before he submitted the form).

    Right now I'm taking all of those suggestions and comments, everything I've learned and making the final draft to send to a line editor in January. The deadline I set for myself to publish is July of 2021, a year and two months after I started writing the first draft.

    What was the point of all of this? Well, just because you have to rewrite your whole story (in my case rewriting a whole story two times), doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad story idea and you should give up. If you really love what you wrote, and it's all you can think about, you have to bite the bullet and learn how to love to edit, revise and rewrite. And keep all those drafts, because it's amazing to see where you started, and where you ended up. A lot of love, hard work, time, and tears went into writing the first book of this series, but it was worth it to me. I hope a lot of people also get as much enjoyment from the world and characters I created. There are still two more books to write, and I'm looking forward to taking everything I've learned and applying it to the next.

    Sometimes you have to trunk a book idea and come back to it later to see if it's something you still want to put the work into. Sometimes the story might not be interesting to you anymore. You've outgrown it and it's time to move on. Most of the time though, don't be afraid to rewrite a bad draft. Learn from your mistakes, and you'll do a lot less rewriting in the next book.

  2. #52
    Member Twisted Head's Avatar
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    Jul 2020
    On the road. Always traveling. Catch me if you can.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle R View Post
    You're describing what a lot of writers refer to as the "first draft".
    This is my thinking too and is one reason I outline. By outlining, I basically have the entire story in front of me by the time I get to the actual writing. I've already figured out what's going to work and what's not. I know if there are holes in the plot as well as if the story will be entertaining. In the end, it definitely saves me a ton of time.

    "If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you."

  3. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by Twisted Head View Post
    This is my thinking too and is one reason I outline. By outlining, I basically have the entire story in front of me by the time I get to the actual writing. I've already figured out what's going to work and what's not. I know if there are holes in the plot as well as if the story will be entertaining. In the end, it definitely saves me a ton of time.

    For a short story, I go with the flow. For a novella or novel, I plan with rigor and don't pick up the pen until I have an outline and synopsis of every chapter.

  4. #54
    Depends on if I feel it's worthwhile taking another crack at it, or maybe I'd rather chase a shiny new idea, or maybe the inside of that oven is looking good.

    "Life is a risk; so is writing. You have to love it." ~ Richard Matheson

  5. #55
    I'd go with something between options 1 and 2 if you were attached to the main story idea. And if you were tired of working on it, or had feelings that it just doesn't sit well, likely option 4.

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