1. jess046
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    jess046 Member

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    When you're writing a story...and you get a new idea that changes everything...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by jess046, Feb 15, 2011.

    What do you guys do when you're in the middle of a story when you suddenly get a new idea that you would have to rework the entire story for it to work. It's such a gamble. It takes a lot of effort, but you could have something much better at the end. Or, going back and revising everything could take away the momentum, leaving you with no story. And the idea could also be a dud when put into writing, and then you've wasted a lot of time and ruined something good. So what's the best approach? Try and finish what you've got and then come back to it? That could be a big waste of time. And, it could take away a lot of the quality of the story, because you'll always have this little niggle in the back of your mind. So what's your solution to this predicament?
     
  2. Jones6192
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    Jones6192 Member

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    Try it, see how it works as an actual story, and compare it to your original plot. Decide which works better in the long run; which is more effective and memorable and, yes, unique?
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it has legs and its good I will delete the story right back and write it in.
     
  4. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    Trust your instinct. Only you have the info that is required to make the decision.

    Exactly how far into your first story are you? 20,000 words? 60,000 words?
    That could make all the difference.
     
  5. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    Take a gamble is all I can say. Luckily I haven't had ideas that make me redo everything.
     
  6. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    That happened to me and I cut all but the first third of the novel to do a rewrite. The original version was crappy, incoherent and full of plot holes, though, so it had to be done. If the original novel was good as it was and I couldn't decide which idea to go with, I might shelve the other one for WIP #2.
     
  7. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    I have had this problem several times. Usually what happens is that I suddenly see a much simpler opportunity the protagonists would have had to solve one of their major problems which simply did not occur to me at the time. What one can do then is

    1) Rewrite the story with the new idea.
    2) Insert something in the earlier part which makes the new idea impossible.
    3) Insert the new idea into the story as something which occurs to the characters now, but it's too late. :p
     
  8. Dauracul
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    Dauracul Member

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    I choose a different route. Keep the idea aside for a new story.

    I'm working on a fantasy time travel novel. I had an idea while brainstorming that involved a sorceror's teleportation ability: instead of appearing somewhere else, the journey to get to the new location sent them through another plane of existence that they have no recollection of.

    I could put that in my story, sure, but it's a concept more deserving of its own story.
     
  9. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    I'm with Dauracul on that one. If you have Story A all nice and outlined -- you know exactly what's going to happen, and why -- then why would you change it midway and turn it into Story B? You can just write up Story B later.

    It's one thing if you are very tentatively committed, like if you're only a few pages into a long story or a novella / novel. But assuming you've got more than 50% of the story on paper or typed up, it seems really wasteful to rewrite Story A into Story B and lose all of that progress.

    In particular, if I still had fewer than five finished stories under my belt, I'd be cautious about tossing away work. New writers have a damned hard time disciplining themselves to write, and in most cases they have an equally difficult time catching themselves when they get into a rut. Throwing out Story A on the off chance Story B is better and gets finished is not the greatest gamble for writers who haven't finished much yet.
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends I am really persnickety about my story flowing - if I come across a new idea I will delete thousands of words just to get it right. For me its not about story A and story B - its about enriching and deepening story A.

    I took my story back 30K words once just because I had changed the falcon my MC changed into from a plain brown peregrine - to the Great White Falcon, because I pulled it back I was able to change the look of the town and the beach allowing the falcon to fit better into its world. I could have just tweaked the colour but I prefer to fit things into the context properly. I don't regret doing it - the image is so much better than the brown falcon. I have pulled a story back to resurrect a character (as that character was Socrates it was worth it lol he has been my MC for several stories). When I am world building new ideas about how the world works creep in and its easier to take the story back and introduce new threads seamlessly than have it seem patched.
     
  11. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I really like option 3. After all, we don't always think of the perfect solutions right when we need them, so why should the characters? It makes the story seem more realistic.
     
  12. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    If the idea strikes as the first draft is in progress, then I usually make the necessary changes, I mean the first drafts are meant to be that; write down whatever ideas that comes to mind. Once the first draft is complete, I save a copy and create another file to make any changes. And yes, when new ideas strike, I usually do dream-storming first, which is just daydreaming to fit in the new ideas to the story, and I usually know whether it'll work or not.
     
  13. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't go a long way back in order to incorporate a new idea, but then I don't write quickly, so a rewrite that might cost somebody days would probably cost me weeks if not months.

    However, I'm certainly open to introducing new ideas or directions into a novel. Basically, I deliberately never plot an ending, and I only have a vague idea of where a story is going. I plan a few chapters ahead and no more than that. If I find myself writing a passage that invites me to go off at a tangent from that rough idea, I go with it on an instinctive level.

    A novel needs to be seen as a journey rather than a destination. :)
     
  14. nhope
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    nhope Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I would copy all that I had written into a new file and use that file for my new story. That way, you can have at it and will still have the original as back up.

    Should you do it? Well, if the thought of not doing it upsets you to the point where you are more focused on the new story, go for it.
     
  15. lost123
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    lost123 Senior Member

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    Everything can be good after some adjustments:D
     
  16. danielperson75
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    danielperson75 Member

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    A story is a compliation of new ideas, We feed them in to our story as we write, I would go back in an earlier chapter fit in something that refrences your new addition then add it later in the story, or you can make this revelation later, maybe someone discovers it, Remember, never take the reader where they want to go. I say if you think it's important enough to shift a whole story around it, then it's probably worthy, I think laziness and excuses are the only thing that's holding you back, it sounded that way, the way you wrote about rewriting the whole story, etc...don't make excuses...just DO!
     
  17. Warrior Poet
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    Warrior Poet Member

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    You're writing this on the computer, right Jess? Save another copy of Story A. You can make one into Story B without actually losing anything! I once had 3 different versions of a novel. Write both for a little while, if you have a time. A few things to ask yourself:

    What's the point of this story, the message? Which will work towards that better?
    What will affect the readers the most, what's more interesting?
    Does it disrupt the plot and the characters, and are you willing to rewrite?

    I'm considered a fairly good writer, but I have a world rattling around in my skull that's slowly becoming more and more detailed, more and more real. It's been growing there for about 2 years and it'll be at least 2 more until I can do it justice - but hey, it'll have grown even more then.
     
  18. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I did do this once.

    I added a character to help the insecure main character, from that point on, I had to go through and make sure nothing happened from that point on that would not make since with the change, or repeat information that the new character reveals earlier, then without it.

    I might suggest keeping the original draft and modify a copy. That way if it flops, you will still be able to go back to what you had before.

    The painter thinks maybe a tree would look good here, paints it, doesn't like it, and paints over it, back to where they were.

    WHat if this happens? Would it be a better story? or just different?
    Does it add to the story or subtract?
    For me I have to run with it, before I can say good or bad.
     
  19. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you think the story will genuinely benefit from it, and will read badly without it, the only real choice is to make the changes. It doesn't often happen to me in mid-flow, but then, I usually slow down writing and often leave a project to the side when a new idea finally comes to me, and then I've already distanced myself from the old draft. I can't remember a time I've ever deleted stuff I'd written in the last few weeks to make something fit - usually it's only adding something, so I can go back and just edit in references and one or two scenes that set it up, then go back to where I was and then introducing the new element only effects the stuff that is to come rather than what already has. This is because I think on my feet with my stories instead of plotting, so I go with whatever seems best as I write, so it's more of a case of finding a new direction than contradicting old stuff, since I'm working off of it instead of thinking of ways to change it.
     
  20. jess046
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    jess046 Member

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    well, with my story I would pretty much be changing story A into story B. I'm not sure if story B is even a good idea and I don't want to waste time plotting it when I've already got story A plotted...but if it works it would be more original and unique. I think I'll try it out since I can pretty much work from what I've got since I've only written about 20 000 words and if it doesn't work out I'll just go back and write story A as it was. My writing depends on being inspired and the idea for Story A isn't stirring anything in me even if it is easier to write. so hopefully this will pay off! :S
     
  21. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    Sounds like you are making the right choice. Good luck!
     

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