Sunday, March 21, 2010

Starting Over

I'm revising again. AGAIN. I've revised once before based on an agent's feedback and while the revision addressed some problems at the end of the book, there are still some pacing issues in the first 50 pages (again, more feedback from that wonderful agent who is being extremely generous with her time).

Those first chapters are a problem. I've revised them many times but, although things have improved, they're just not good enough. So I've reached a conclusion: they have to go.

That's right. Gone. I am going to throw them away and start fresh. After a several difficult days of muttering to myself and frantic highlighting and scribbling in the margins of the latest draft, I came up with a lot of reasons why this is necessary:
  • Those chapters were written four years ago. The rest of the book (where there are far fewer problems) was written last year. I know I am a much better writer now, the way that a dancer is better for practicing every day.
  • They have been picked apart and put back together so many times that they don't flow they way they should.
  • Trying to fix the problem using what is there is clearly not working. I need to approach those chapters in a new way and I can't do that with the old words staring at me.
  • I know my characters and better. Because of this, I can communicate the backstory and motivation much more effectively and efficiently now.
I have to admit that when I decided this, I felt sick. I thought I was finished. I wanted what's there to be good enough. There is still a lot of writing in those chapters that I like (I may use some of it, but I will make that decision AFTER I finish the new chapters). But it has to be done. And the more I think about it, the more eager I am to start writing. There is that thrill of possibility in writing something new. I am optimistic that it will show and make the book much stronger.

Fingers crossed.

What about you? Have you ever done this? How did it work out for you?


  1. I have chucked scenes and started fresh. I had to do that with my ending. It was painful, but it ended up so much better.

    Good luck!

  2. I've chucked my middle and am currently rewriting it. Also chucked the first chapter when my crit group discovered that lo and behold, the inciting incident was hiding in chapter 2. :-)

    I've been plugging away on the same book for 4 years plus too. You're right that sometimes the early draft from ages ago was a forest you had to clear to get to the final destination.

    Your story will be all the stronger for the rewrite! Keep on keeping on!