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Rewriting in the middle of the story?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by druidofwinter, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. druidofwinter

    druidofwinter Sage

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    So i am a little over halfway through my WIP and have decided that a pretty big chunk(20-30K words) needs some major changing. I thought things were working out well while i was writing it, but in hindsight i see i discovery wrote a bit too much. I am still writing as though events i have now decided did not happen did. Characters are in the wrong places, and over all i feel frustrated. I am almost to a point where all the characters get back together and i can continue the story as i originally planed. But until then i hate writing stuff i know i'm going to cut. I thought of jumping forward to the point where things are back on track, but the previous events will effect stuff through the rest of the book and i want to have the right stuff down in detail so the characters can discuss it later. So what i am wonder is: Should i go back and cut out that whole section and rewrite it? I know i will have to eventually, but should i do it now? I might to be able to make it through the book without doing it, but i would sacrifice some quality. On the other hand i do want to get it DONE. I have heard you should let some things slid during the first draft, but should i let THIS slide?

    Thanks guys, sorry this is so round about.
     
  2. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    When I come across this problem, I make notes about what needs to change and where. After that, I continue writing as if the changes have already been made. I find this let's me get to the end and IMHO saves time because you're not constantly going back and changing stuff that may or may not get cut.
     
  3. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Penpilot is right on the money... Take notes and continue as if the changes are already written. Otherwise you will keep writing and rewriting. Whose to say you won't go back, complete your desired rewrite, get back on track, pump out another 20k words, then realize you need to change it again? It happens all the time in a story of any length.

    The advice Penpilot laid out will save you countless hours and tons of aggravation over wasted work.
     
    druidofwinter likes this.
  4. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Unless you've wrote yourself into a corner, where there is no acceptable ending, keep at it.

    Where this gets to be a real pain is with the rewrites, patching plotholes and fixing story arcs. I ended up deleting 15,000 of my work, totally rewriting the remainder, and then turning around and adding so much more it grew by 20,000 words from its original size - most of that patching plot holes. This is where things get tedious, I've discovered: delete two lines here and a paragraph there. Add five paragraphs in this section. Wrack my brain for three days trying to come up with an acceptable solution to one plothole. Debate with myself for another day or two on just how I should incorporate a bit of needed (?) info in another section. Write six pages of new material from scratch to replace some deleted material. And so on.
     
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  5. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    You see, what the problem is here is that you didn't start with a plan. IMHO it is critical to work out the basic story in point form before you commit too much to prose.

    Having said that, if you realise something is just not working, save the whole thing as a different file and rewrite the stuff that doesn't work. That way, if the rewrite doesn't work, you can still go back to where you are now and try again.

    Creating different versions is akin to creating different realities.

    You are the writer. You are God.
     
  6. druidofwinter

    druidofwinter Sage

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    Wow guys! Great advice! I think i will do like Penpilot said, make some notes and then go on. Going back and rewriting 30k words would really slow me down, so i see it's best just to go one and save that for the rewrites. All your posts have helped a lot. Thanks!
     
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >You see, what the problem is here is that you didn't start with a plan.

    Oh, I start with a plan. A really great plan. In detail. Everything works smoothly and progresses as intended to a satisfying conclusion. All the plan is in tidy cards (electronic) with an over-arching master file. Frightfully organized, this dog is.

    Then I start writing. A secondary character becomes more important. A character I never even thought about walk on-stage and usurps the whole story for a while. Sections I thought would be exciting just plain aren't. The story needs to start later.

    In other words, the best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley. Some wretched Scotsman said that and damned if he wasn't right.
     
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  8. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    That's fine. That happens to me all the time. As they say in the military, no plan survives contact with the enemy. (The enemy in this metaphor being the act of writing.) But it's still important to start with a plan.

    My new book comes out in September and there is a particular quirk it has which makes me very confident in its success. It took me a really long time to create the plan and get ready to start generating prose. One of my problems was that I had two possible endings in mind and couldn't decide which one to use. This meant that when I started writing, I was setting up two possible endings, and as I went along, I started moving more in the direction of one of them, but leaving the other as a red herring possibility. Then, when I actually got to the end, I had a eureka moment and a whole new ending emerged which was far better than my first two. What this now means is that the standard reader starts to suspect they know what I want them to think - they can discern another subtle possibility and smile quietly to themselves, thinking: I know where this is going. Then wham! They get smacked between the eyes with the double twist real ending, which makes perfectly satisfactory sense. It's so huge that not even the author saw it coming!

    So far, none of my 30-odd beta readers have guessed. I am really happy with the way this story has turned out, but for all its surprise SOP impact, I could never have got to the end without a plan.
     
  9. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    That is pretty much what happened with me. Originally, the whole thing was supposed to be 10,000 - 15,000 words. Then annoying questions started turning up. The characters insisted on spending a lot of time talking about events BEFORE the start of the story, which in fact were highly relevant to the tale. So I added that stuff, which was good, because it fleshed out the characters and provided motivation, but it was also bad, because it was all 'telling' rather than 'showing'. By the time I got done with that and a bunch of neat, but totally superflous scenes, the first draft was pushing 45,000 words.

    So, with the initial rewrite, I decided to try scaling it down, and turning the 'telling' into 'showing' - adding 2000 - 3000 words to the beginning. First version of the rewrite, I had that...but it came with a bunch of 'telling' and more than a few plotholes. By the time I got that first section...nearly finished (still have minor grammar and word choice issues to deal with) it had hit 15,000 words all by itself. And when I moved into the meat of the story, I found more plotholes that needed patching.


    In my case its not so much a 'plan' as it is a definite beginning, middle, and end. Anymore, if I don't have a real clear mental image on those, I don't write it up. I used to...and I retain plenty of fragmentary tales which go nowhere.
     
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