1. Emmy
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    Emmy Member

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    Rewrite, rewrite...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Emmy, Apr 16, 2009.

    I started writing my story using "scenes" - something that I felt strongly about in the moment, that I could use for my overall tale. I kept writing until I had - literally - a hundred or more different lengthy scenes, many of which eventually contradicted one another (because I changed the theme of my book a dozen times before settling on something).

    This morning I hit the breaking point. I'd been constructing my story much like paper and scissors and glue project: plucking old pieces I really loved, and trying to fit them all together. Guess what? It doesn't work. It kills the whole reason for writing - I was so sick of copying and pasting, I forgot why I even wanted to write in the first place.

    Enter breaking point: I trashed everything except the parts I'd put together, and my finger is itching to scrap that, too. But I don't want to start over....I'm wondering if this is a normal part of the process? Writing, and rewriting? Am I nuts? Do writers do this? How many times is a "normal" amount of times to write a book over? Is this revising, actually?

    I've written this same story a number of ways, a dozen times, and it was never right. Never perfect enough for me. So I'm at the beginning - again.

    What's wrong with me? Or am I on the right track? Is this what writing is partly about - molding and remolding and then smushing the whole thing only to build it back up again, better than before?
     
  2. That Silly Welsh Guy
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    That Silly Welsh Guy Senior Member

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    You're not nuts :). Not that I'm an expert on this topic - but it certainly seems 'normal'. Certainly for me. I mean, I've had my current novel idea for nigh on three years and I've only just completed the first chapter perfectly (for me anyways). All my other attempts at this chapter were scrapped and reshaped numerous times - as many times as fifty I'd say so, yeah; I honestly think it is a part of the process. Don't get discouraged - defnitely on the right track :D
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    doesn't sound like either 'rewriting' or 'revising' to me... just sounds like noodling around with random scenes, without giving any thought to plot... and that's not what most seasoned writers do... plus, it's not a good way to approach writing a story, much less a novel...

    my best advice would be to lock up all those pages and sit yourself down to lay out a plot first... then, start writing your novel from the beginning... as you do, i'm sure that some of those scenes you wrote will come back to you, when you get to parts where they will fit...
     
  4. OneMoreNameless
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    OneMoreNameless Contributing Member

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    ^ What mammamaia said. Putting together random scenes doesn't make a complete novel, it makes a bunch of tenuously related scenes. (Although if nothing else it's good writing practise.) Plan it, start from the beginning, and work in any scenes that still fit from there. If you plan a story well enough, you shouldn't need to completely rewrite anything, just mild editing and revision.
     
  5. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I was like this once, back in the days when I just wrote a scene I thought sounded cool without having any idea of where I was going with it. I would write a scene, love it, and move on. But when I looked back over it, I would wonder if I had secretly been smoking some crazy BS and scrap it. I once tried to tell myself that I was just being negative and continued on anyway. I nearly completely finished the book when I realized that the chapters were more like their own little stories, barely connected by a thin thread. A bad thing for a novel. The entire thing--almost a hundred thousand words--was scrapped. The damage was just too severe to repair without exhausting myself, and to be honest, there wasn't anything among those mini-story-chapters worth salvaging.

    I haven't had to do anything that drastic ever since I started getting a general idea of the plot before writing a word. Of course, I've written trash since then, and I've scrapped pieces of writing. But now I'm usually able to trudge through only a few paragraphs before realizing something isn't working. Makes things SO much easier.

    If you have several scenes that you really want to write, I'd suggest coming up with an appropriate storyline first, and then choosing the most fitting of those scenes to stick into that storyline. This way, you won't end up trashing so much of your writing. Hopefully. :p

    In shorter words, what Maia and OMN said.
     
  6. crimsonrose
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    crimsonrose Senior Member

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    nonononoNO honey! don't throw your work away! If you ever get frustrated, walk away from it for a bit and get back to it a few weeks later, when you have a fresher viewpoint and a clearer head.

    Writers tend to be artistic, and I know us artistic people tend to be passionate. ;) But don't go so passionate as to scrap your hard work :)

    I fully know how you feel. My fiance has had to beg me out of throwing away stories. Just don't quit at it. Take a break.
     
  7. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Solace: My sister and I have done (and still do) the same thing, at times, though not to such an extent.

    Suggestion: Start writing your story (not using the scenes) from the beginning, but insert the scenes where you feel that they would fit, as you go along.
    You'll find that when you truly find a good place for a scene, it is quite invigorating and inspiring.
     
  8. Chaoslogic
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    Chaoslogic Member

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    This is a normal part of writing. Don't throw the scenes away. What you have on your hands is a story.

    For the short story I'm doing, I had to rewrite my first few paragraphs once. I kept what I'd written handy in case I was able to use it. What I came up with was much better, so I was able to delete it when I was absolutely sure it wasn't necessary anymore.

    There is another story I'm working on called Pseudoworld (just a nickname, not the actual title). I've rewritten it the start a dozen times and just when I think I'm making progress I have to go back and do research. I've deleted whatever progress I made because I was taking the story in a different direction. I wasn't able to use what I had written before. What I wrote wasn't in vain because I came out with something new each time.

    Keep working at it and you'll find your way eventually. You have to polish a boot many times in order to make it shine. Remember that.
     
  9. OneMoreNameless
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    OneMoreNameless Contributing Member

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    Okay, hold on. You've spent some time writing. You've then changed your mind, and deleted it. Several times. You now presumably possess a single start to your story, admitting your previous attempts are unusable, and are much further away from finishing it than you would have been if you didn't keep changing your mind. How are those first deleted attempts not in vain towards completing your story?

    (Unless you claim each rewrite has been higher quality than the last, in which case I still call inefficiency on your writing method. Also, polishing a boot several times is additive to the boot's visual quality, whereas completely rewriting something is replace ... itive. Anyway, it's not a fair comparison!)
     
  10. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    Look upon it as hard-gained experience and then reread Maia's post. Apart from warming-up exercises, everything you write, be it first or later drafts, must be done with forethought and consideration. Continuous writing, without realisation, is ultimately a waste of time. Taking your time and 'knowing' what you write enhances the quality of connection between the mind and the heart, in my humble opinion. Good luck with your work.
     
  11. Chaoslogic
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    Chaoslogic Member

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    I don't like deleting stuff right away. I keep it handy to see if I can use it, then delete it only when I'm sure I don't need it. The instance I mentioned is not in vain because they refined my ideas about the MC. I've read that it is common for authors to write twenty pages of garbage before finding their true starting point.
     
  12. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Do you have a plot?
     
  13. Emmy
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    Emmy Member

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    Thanks for all of the replies - I really appreciate the different perspectives, and each has given me another layer of thought to consider.

    Update: Sorry I haven't been around...I've been writing! I've written 30,000 words since Tuesday - the story is really flowing.

    Anyway, I burned everything after my little meltdown. I completely deleted all the files, and then actually burned the printed pages in my fireplace. And in the event that it helps someone else, this is what I discovered:

    I had a bundle of good stuff, that worked badly. As I mentioned, I loved all my scenes. But they were seriously pointless because - tada! I had no one plot in mind.

    Getting rid of all of it helped me clean the slate. I mourned over the loss of those words in ways I can't even articulate, but like a festering wound, I had to clean everything out so I could allow for new growth.

    I've restarted my story. I simplified all of the concerns in my mind, and made a final decision on whatever I could: plot, POV, the character list, the events that took the story along. And then, I just sat down and started hammering.

    At first, I found myself bound by trying to remember my other scenes that applied. But the frustration did me in quickly (thank god), and I let it go. From the first page of the middle of my story - where I decided to begin - I let all of that old stuff ago, and wouldn't even allow myself to remember those beloved scenes. I created everything new, and once I got into a flow, then I would let myself go back and say, "Hmm, that dock scene was really good and it would fit here really nicely." I pictured it in my mind like the first time I wrote it, and, rather than trying to remember the exact words, I just remembered the feeling of it.

    And here I am now, on Thursday, 30,000 words in the bag. If my eyes would hold out, I'd write more each day. The story is alive and well, and flowing onto paper nicely.

    So for me, in this instance, I think I did the right thing. I probably won't ever do it again, and I'll approach future projects a little more intelligently. I'm not hauling myself over the coals too much however; this is my first complex project and I'm learning as I go.
     
  14. Manutebecker
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    Manutebecker Member

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    Grats, Emmy. However, I kind of would like to recommend that you slow down a bit and look over your writing before shoveling out 30,000 words in a day. If you take the time to breath and make sure you know fully well what is going on in your story, it will be much speedier and better in the long run. The immortal phrase "Haste makes waste" yields fine results in the writing medium :)
     
  15. Emmy
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    Emmy Member

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    LOL - true, Manutebecker. Very true.

    I didn't write 30,000 in one day, however. That's nuts - can you imagine? I like your immortal phrase. I'll have to add it to my board of inspiring quotes.
     

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