Why I’ve Decided To Start Again

Job-searchI’ve decided, after some painstaking deliberation, to start again from square one with my new novel, Blind Faith. It was a hard decision to make because I’ve already completed the first draft of 80,000 words. All those words, just sitting there, taunting me from their glowing white screen.

I didn’t know what to do but I knew there were a lot of changes which I wanted to make and I wasn’t sure if editing was going to be the most efficient way of doing it. I’ve obviously continued to read up on ‘the craft’ and I always want my next book to be the best thing I’ve ever written so, when it came down to it, I knew I’d just have to accept the inevitable.

Editing is about crafting what you already have. If all of the characters are there and the scenes are pretty much there, then you can edit, but if you want to make changes to the core of the story then you must re-write. Some authors believe in a throw away first draft as part of their method, but it’s not something I want to end up doing all of the time.

I tried something different when writing this novel. I went off without a plan and concentrated on the characters. This was great for getting to know who was in the story, but the process of getting to know them took about 80,000 words and that’s a big time commitment.

I’m a believer in the business side of modern writing. (see my post from last week) I want to publish books and move on, I want to streamline my process and I want to feel as though I’m being productive. I can be a lot better at all of these right now and that’s frustrating.

After making the decision to re-write, it’s given me an opportunity to try out the ‘Beats’ method from ‘Write, Publish, Repeat’. Writing a detailed synopsis for each chapter before I even start.

I now have the overall plan and I’ve just finished writing chapter 1. I hope that this decision will produce a more cohesive book, with better characters and a deeper message. One can only try.

Until next time…

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10 responses to “Why I’ve Decided To Start Again

  1. Being a ‘pantser’ I honestly don’t think I could plan out an entire book in advance. Many times something as simple as a dialogue between two characters has taken my story in a completely different and unexpected direction.

  2. Been there. In fact it’s why I started outlining. As a result I regularly use the snowflake method (mixing it up at stage 8 with beats). Never looked back. I can still pants inside each scene (and often I go off in different directions, but the beginning and end of a scene are usually quite safe), and actually outlining is more creative for me as I’m looking at the whole picture trying to move things around so they work.

    Brave decision, but I’m sure it will be a good one.

  3. No idea what the other responders are talking about…….but that’s because I’m a reader not a writer! I think it’s a courageous approach to take, Mike, dumping so much work, but I agree with your reasoning. I thought there might be a problem with the book seeing as you’ve made little mention of it of late and have found a new method you wanted to try. At least you know these characters now…..and they’ll either have to inhabit the new story or just wait their turn in the future! Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  4. Living that now, it’s painful in the beginning. However I’m mid way through on my do-over and I’m happier. Cheers to you finding that happiness on your do-over too.

  5. The novelist John Braine once said that his method was to discard his first draft and then rewrite the novel, as he never knew how the novel should be written until he had finished that first draft. He probably revised little, and would probably have been appalled at the idea of urgently writing book after book as “products” to be as quickly consumed and forgotten like fast food. Jerc47, what they are talking about is the rough division of novelists into those who plan and outline on the one hand, and those who just start at page one and write “by the seat of their pants” (i.e. seeing where the writing takes them). My own preference is to know how the book or play ends before I start writing.

    • Thanks Stephen, I agree that most of the great novelists would be appalled by the entrepreneurial spirit applied to writing these days. The method, however, has probably never changed. Some will always prefer to throw themselves in while others would prefer to plan. Part of the journey as a writer is to experiment with both techniques and find the one that suits better.

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