Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crazy little thing called 're-writing'...

So, what with Valentine's Day having driven off the advances of the shameless Shiny New Idea and rekindled my love for my hedgehog project, I found myself taking a swing at beginning again.

I've written before about rewriting a beginning over and over again and that leading to stagnation of the story. It's one of the scariest parts about this rewrite: knowing my history with this whole thing. But I think this story needs it.

See, even when I say things like "just keep writing", there remains the Golden Rule of Writing: there are no rules. While, yes, there are rules about grammar and such, even they can be broken if you have a legitimate reason for breaking them. And when it comes to a process, there really is no "right" way to write. I myself never seem to follow the same pattern twice, which is one of the reasons I'm giving myself the go-ahead with this re-write.

I am a pantser through and through and it took me that original six thousand word beginning I had to see that it wasn't working. I had to take it that far to see that it wasn't working, or else I would have regretted a flighty change. This latest beginning is actually something like Version 2.5, being a sort of rework of an actual second beginning idea.

Now, if I were to have followed my own advice and "just kept writing", I would have been banging my head against a brick wall, frustrated by lack of enthusiasm and progress. And, despite the fact that ninety percent of writing is just the muscle action of putting pen to paper and keeping it there, some sort of inspiration is necessary to keep the story going.

And if anything, this is part of my planning process. Testing out what works, experimenting with styles (yay for out-of-order flashbacks and unreliable narrators!), and just generally hashing it out. I can't let the fear of a past failure stop me from progressing, nor let my own sensibilities stifle my story.

Does part of me panic at even the possibility of letting another story head towards the shelf? Yes. Is part of me frustrated at not having gotten it right the first time and now being almost entirely back at square one without having gotten all that far to begin with? Yes.

Is it going to be worth it? I think so. Worst case scenario, as always; I'll have learned something from it.

Anyone else ever rebooted a project more than once in the early stages? Did you ever finish? Still working on it? Relegated it to the shelf?


  1. You've got to go with your gut!

    I have to admit that I've had more success with novel writing (and actually COMPLETING said novel) since I embraced my pantser ways, and forced myself not to care about how shitty my writing was until I was done with the story. It does mean that I sometimes end up with almost 50k of words I need to cut out!! And yes, no doubt it makes the novel editing process more difficult. But it's more enjoyable for me.

    That said, I have novels that are not finished from YEARS ago, that I've spent countless hours editing, simply because I can't bear to face task of continuing with the actual writing of new material. I also have a novel that I planned out (last year's NaNo), and that is actually complete. Once I passed 50k though, I found it quite a chore to keep going. I'm not sure if this is because I had it all planned out, or because I was just bored, or what.

    I guess I've done pretty much everything with novel writing except rewriting entire works from scratch. I'm not sure I'll ever do that.

  2. I've never had much success writing long stories...somehow, every time I read what I've written, it doesn't look good enough for me...and then I shelf it, and then I think of restarting it, shelf and restart, shelf and restart....maybe I'm not disciplined enough...heck, maybe I'm too lazy...

  3. You are so not alone it's not even funny. In fact, I feel like I'm reading a blog post that I wrote...only minus the obscure references to cheese. I rewrote my first novel....I've lost count... I think it was 6 times. I stopped at 50,000 words and then started rewriting and I haven't really touched it since with the exception of the hundred words I added to it last week.

    It's evolved. In fact, I moved some of the characters in it to an entirely different story (2010's NaNo...cough). The title has changed at least four times. The only good thing that seems to have come out of my compulsive rewriting is better characters.

    2010's NaNo was a real challenge for me. I actually did rewrite the beginning of that novel 6 days in, but I'm very pleased to say that I finished it two weeks ago. It has no plot and when I finally get around to rewriting it it's going to be something akin to starting afresh, but I DID finish it. It was a miracle. I wanted to rewrite it so many times. Toward the end, I wanted to just completely abandon it, but I persevered and I'm glad I did.

    My ramble can be summarized as thus: I identify with your problem.