Monday, June 15, 2009

What Do YOU Do When...

You have written a novel. All or most of it. Then you read a craft book that really opens your eyes to all said book is missing. Do you go back to square one and start over,incorporating GMCs and MRUs and all the other things you were lacking? Do you go back and try to re-write each scene line by line, trying to add in the missing elements? Do you just delete scenes right and left that do not have the elements needed?

Photo by Nic's events

One thing Debra Dixon said in GMC was that you can't just have the hero and heroine meet up in the laundromat to up the sexual tension or to have one more "cute scene" with the two of them before things get really heavy with the story? YIKES!! I've done that more times than I care to admit. What happens is that the author projects HER goals on to the characters instead of the character's goals shining through.

So my dilemma is a big one. I love my story. I love my characters. I love the premise. There is some great conflict already...and some great motivation (for at least one of the characters).

I'm asking for your suggestions as to the best way to go about a major rehaul. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

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Katie said...

Hey girl...that's a tough Q. Whatever you decide to do, you know me, I'm completely game. If you want to go through each scene together and brainstorm GMCs, I'm all about it, because your overall premise is really great! You might have to help me with this for As High as the Heavens too!

PatriciaW said...

Varies for each person. I'd say if it's going to cause you major stress to overhaul your current story, set it aside, and practice your newfound skills in a new story. You can always come back to the current story at a later point.

If it will cause you major stress to set it aside, then I'd say finish the story first. But go ahead and practice your newly gained skills as you complete the story. Then give yourself some time away from it, to gain perspective, and start from the beginning, revising and incorporating your new skills.

Terri Tiffany said...

If it is major--I might do as Katie suggested--start a new story--and let it sit until you can think of a way to do it.

I just took weeks overhauling my first chapter and had to dump some parts that killed me to do it but am very happy with the results now!

Jody Hedlund said...

I'm not sure that there is one right way to do this. I've met some writers who keep on working on the same novel, rewriting it, and rewriting it until they finally get to the point where they are satisfied.

I'm not one of those writers. I wrote at least five books and started several that I never finished. They're in the closet and that's where they'll stay until I decide to have a big bonfire someday with them. They were my growth spurt books.

I couldn't have reached the place I'm at today without them. But I have no desire to go back and overhaul them. They'd need WAY too much work.

P.S. Glad you got all your books back!! Awesome!

scott g.f. bailey said...

My last novel had a major flaw that I decided to fix. I rewrote great loads of extant prose, added scenes and chapters, cut about 5000 words and added another 15,000 by the time I was done. It took a concentrated effort, nearly every day, over three months but the results were well worth it.

The novel before that is so flawed that I'd have to rewrite the entire thing from scratch. I've decided that I'm not in love enough with that story to make the effort, so I chalk it up to learning experiences.

My current novel, still in the outlining stages, will be flawless, I tell you, from the first draft! Well, okay, not. But if nothing else, I hope I've learned from my mistakes and that anything wrong with this one will be original flaws, not repetitions of the mistakes I've made in the past. We'll see.

Anyway, to answer your question: it depends on your own opinion as to the cost/benefits of a major revision. Nobody can make that decision but you, since you'll be the one doing the work and reaping the rewards.

Lynnette Labelle said...

I went through a similar situation about a year ago. I thought it was polished, my friends loved it. However, I took a couple of online courses and realized my story needed some work. I'm a plotter, which probably worked to my advantage. I took the old story, cut 3/4 of it and started over. It was a hard thing to do at first, but worth it. I like the new story much better and I know my writing's stronger.

Good luck.

Lynnette Labelle

Liana Brooks said...

1. Find a critique group or another author or three who will beta-read for you.

2. Let them read and leave the manuscript alone. It is a rough draft and you need distance.

3. Get feedback from your fresh eyes and decide how much work you really need.

4. Edit.

You're jumping the gun and trying to edit without help, fresh eyes, or distance. You need all three.

For how you edit, that depends on how much work your manuscript really needs. Sometimes, especially with your first few novels (or at least mine) a full rewrite was needed.

Other times custom rewrites or cutting will serve the purpose.

If you don't have a critique group lined up, may I recommend ?

Danyelle said...

For me, I need to finish the draft before I even think about revising it. And then I let it sit for a month or two. I'd really suggest getting some good beta readers that you trust to be honest and kind, and who get your work. Betas are invaluable!

Stephanie Newton said...

I rewrote a whole manuscript, Jeanie. I kept my characters, the basic premise and their GMC. That was it. I started at the beginning and rewrote it without looking at the other version at all. Occasionally I would think that a scene (or even a paragraph) might fit, so I'd go clip it, but other than that, it's a complete do-over. And a book that I was just "meh" about, I totally love now. I believe in writing new--you learn new stuff--but you also learn skills from rewriting. Editors like authors who can revise. So how much do you love those characters? Enough to live with them for three or four more months?