After going back to the beginning and starting through the book adding stuff, I started to have a feeling I’d been too hasty in deleting all those words yesterday. So I recovered them, then kept going through the book. I added just over 2,500 words in the first 4 chapters and a new chapter 5. I realized some things about the story that had been bothering me, and this stuff I wrote yesterday, I’m very excited by it.
I’m gonna be upfront here and say that some of that decision could have come from the last 2 videos from Dean Wesley Smith’s Originality Workshop series that’s freely available on YouTube at the moment. Even if you don’t want to bother watching any of the other videos, those 2 are worth watching multiple times.
Anyway, after listening to those 2 about 3 times each, I decided I wasn’t being true to what I wanted from this story. I remember reaching a point where I wondered what readers would think about a choice I had to make, and I remember quite clearly making the safe choice for that reason. But it wasn’t right. It wasn’t what this story needed. So I fixed it. And boy, do I love what’s there now so much better.
I didn’t do much rewriting, but I did do some—although I’m positive I was going at it creatively, not destructively. To me, destructive rewriting is when I’m just trying to make something sound better in my head. Creative rewriting happens when I need to make changes to create a better story—in this particular case, creating something I like better. Those are two different types of rewriting, in my opinion.
As a general rule, I don’t think rewriting does me any favors so I avoid it as much as possible. On the other hand, if the story isn’t coming out the way I want, I don’t see any reason not to rewrite sections as I’m trying to work my way into the real story. In all honesty, what I’m talking about probably isn’t even rewriting so much as it’s just part of the writing process. I mean, I’m only 19k-ish words into a story I fully intend to land around 50k.
It really made me more excited about what I was writing to revisit the opening chapters. Something to note is that I originally wrote this opening back in February 2015, so there could be other factors at play in the rewriting thing, such as that I’m just in a different place creatively speaking now than I was then, so of course the story had to change.
Whatever the reason, I just started to feel like my first few chapters of this book weren’t the same book as the ones that followed and something had to give or I was going to flame out with this story. (Because of the way I work, I often start books that I don’t get back to for months or years at a time. I’m trying to fix that with the multiple stories method.)
And I do admit, this has been an unusual case. This is as close as I’ve ever come to feeling a need to just scrap a story and start from scratch.1 Yesterday, I admit, at one point, I panicked a bit, remembering a quote DWS has repeated a few times on his website about steaming piles of crap, but I ignored it, because I had this feeling that my problem with this story wasn’t that it was a bad story, but that I’d failed somewhere along the line in the telling of it.
Then I figured it out, and things started to fall together. I have a new chapter or two to finish today, and then I have more story to go through, and I have a decision to make about my character that’ll determine just how much I’ll have to fix going forward, but I’m very hopeful I’ll be keeping the vast majority of those words I thought about deleting yesterday. :D
Now that I think about it that way, nope, I really don’t see any of what I did yesterday (or am planning to do today) as rewriting, because I’m very much still in the process of creating this story.
Time to get to work now, and I’ll report back later with the results! I’m hoping to get all the way through the book today, and add about 4k words to the story.
1^ I came just about this close back in January 2015, but I think this one was closer. I ended up loving that story. I still do. I did a good job with it. I just wish more people would find that series and like it because I love it enough to want to keep writing it, but hardly anyone’s buying. Bummer, that.