Where to Go from Here

Wm.Zinsser

Although I’m in the midst of another re-write (meaning, the story is complete) rewrite (for me) sometimes means changing things to the point where the older edit just doesn’t seem to apply anymore. The story became something new and went in a different direction from the previous versions.

This isn’t entirely the case this time around, but I am writing it differently, which means certain elements and scenes from the previous version no longer apply.

One question often asked us writers is are we aware of the ending prior to our having begun to write our novels. My answer, most often, tends to be no. I start with an idea; a vision, or even more often with a memory that I’m embellishing in my mind and transforming into a novel. I know how the original situation turned out, but my version isn’t so cut & dry that I’m going to retell precisely what occurred.

Or, as I’m editing/rewriting a previous work, I decide I’d like to change things up a bit . . . or a lot. This is where I’m at with this re-write. I’ve set the same characters on the same path, but with changes in misfortune, adventure, and incidences.

This might be where I will accuse myself of experiencing writer’s block. I stare and stare at the work but don’t actually do any typing. I’ll find myself wandering around the house or up and down the block, my thinking cap on and in high gear. I play mahjjong and put online puzzles together while I’m thinking some more, and before I go to bed, I jot down notes that deal with all that thought-work.

Then I spend more time worrying that I’ve somehow ruined the previous story by changing certain aspects and scenes. Even when I do know where the story is headed and why I’m writing it, I sometimes feel like it just isn’t cutting it and isn’t worth the effort. I’m not really SAYING anything even if I do have nearly 80,000 words typed or actually see FIN on the last page.

Right now, I just want there to be more to the story than I’ve written, with just one more unexpected scene to make the story even more interesting than I think it is already.

This could also be the antagonistic self-doubter subversively trying to convince me that I’m not good enough. She’s been shot so many times now, it’s a wonder she still finds the strength and courage to rise from her death bed to continue annoying me, but she manages somehow.

Or, I’m just thinking too hard about something that usually ends up coming together without much strain or effort on my part. The light bulb will go on at some point; just not at the moment I’d like for it to occur. Like, right now, when I’m having trouble typing another word because after reworking the first part of this story, I’m wanting to change the second part so that it flows better and matches the first part’s rework.

I’ve still got those other stories wandering around inside my head, too, poking at me to start on them when I need to get this original work finished first.

Plot twist. I like the original plot twist, but it isn’t contributing this time around, so I’m stuck. I need to use it because it’s a good one, but it has to be written in a way that just slides right on into the next part without sounding awkward and choppy.

Do you guys know exactly how your novels are going to end, or do you write like me and (borrowing from the Brits) pants it? What is the best way you’ve found to rewrite without tearing apart the original story so much that it ends up becoming a new story?

Back to Word, edit #15, and more staring at Chapter 15 and a big, blank page.

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About RaineBalkera

Aspiring Author of Romance
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2 Responses to Where to Go from Here

  1. Lisa says:

    I always know the exact last line of the story before I begin. That final scene comes from my initial idea. The problem is then figuring out how to get to that last line and who these people are in the final scene! I end up reworking the first third of the story as it seems to take me about that long to figure out what’s going on in that final scene. I guess I kind of go through the writing life backwards! It’s interesting to me that you do such extensive rewriting that the original changes. I guess the question would be, are you happier with the final? Is the final product worth the revision work? I also wonder what would happen if you took notes as you revised, tracking not so much the changes, but why you didn’t like a scene, why you like the revision better, and why you felt the change was needed. Would that help you see a pattern to your writing/revising/process? If so you might be able to cut down on the revision process. With that said however, there’s nothing wrong with revisions if you end up with a story you’re happy with. This might just be your writing process. I’d say multiple revisions would only be a problem if we keep revising and never finish. I have a couple like that in boxes…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. RaiBal says:

    Thank you, Lisa, for your insight. Knowing the very end of a novel (for me) is usually just ‘they lived happily ever after’ — not quite, but something along those lines. So, yes, in that sense I know how my stories will end. While in beta, though, my original story (14 drafts) received a lot of negative feedback, so I practically felt obliged to rewrite the entire story. I think now I’ve come to a point in the edit where I’m starting to doubt their integrity over my own. I’ve picked up where I left off since this post, though, and am feeling better about the way the story is progressing, so hopefully it will all work out.

    Like

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