Accepting the Reality of Dangerous

It’s time.  Time to accept that no matter how many iron-on patches and crazyglue fixes I try with my first novel, it’s over.  This edit isn’t happening.  Yeah, I’m halfway through.  Sure, I’ve hit the 200 page mark. Woohoo.

It sucks. End of story.  My ears bleed when I read the text aloud.  The writing barely feels like it’s mine.  I don’t really care about the story, the characters are flat and noncommittal, the action without actual peril, the setting half-assed.  I can fix all these things.  But not if I’m stuck in the framework of the original novel.  It is time not to revise, but to rewrite.

I’m making a list right now.  On the list go all the things I like about the original text.  These are things I’ll keep.  I might end up with a wholly different novel than I had before. I don’t know.  I’m going to keep the basics of the plot, the setting, and most of the characters.  I can rebuild it, better, faster, stronger.

If I can’t write a whole new novel, then I don’t belong writing novels.  This is going to be a lot more work than ironing on patches and debugging the original.  I think I’ll be lucky if I’m done by July (my tentative goal). I want the novel to feel like I wrote it though.  I want to write characters I’m interested in, and I want the time to find their voices, to weave their cares and conflicts into the story.

It also means that my other two novels are going on the back burner.  I think this is good.  They can percolate in my head for a while longer.

5 Responses to “Accepting the Reality of Dangerous”

  1. elizaw

    My first novel was the biggest, most cliched monstrosity ever to mar a sheet of printer paper. I’m about a third of the way through my first rewrite of my current project, and I fully intend to scrap this rewrite when I’m done with it and rewrite it again a second time before I start really editing it. It needs it. Every time I do the piece over, I’ve figured out more about the themes, the characters, the setting, the pacing, the focus.

    Purge your story. Tear it into shreds, anything that you dislike about the original content. Salvage your good ideas, work on them, make them better… and think of it less of a rebuild and more of a refocus, a transformation from a sucky manuscript to something that you would be excited to read.

    Don’t get discouraged. Really. They all look like that in the beginning. It’s not an easy journey… but stick it out anyway, and good luck!

  2. izanobu

    That is pretty much what I’m doing. And I’m fairly sure that getting discouraged is part of my writing process 😉

  3. girlgriot

    I agree that getting discouraged can be part of the process … as long as it doesn’t turn you away from your work, and it doesn’t sound as though that’s happening in your case. I actually love rewriting, sometimes more than the initial creation.

    Good luck as you go.

  4. Oliver

    I’m addicted to rewrites. If writing is a labor of love, then rewriting is the cigarette afterwards. Trouble is I smoke like a chimney and once I start rewriting, there’s rarely an end in sight. Fortunately my editor threatened to quit if I rewrote half of my novel (again) before finishing the whole thing, so that’s helping me focus on progress as opposed to mucking with the bits that are already there.

    So err, what I’m saying is I’m all for rewrites, but don’t get too caught up in trying to make it perfect the first time around or you’ll run the risk of getting caught in a never-ending cycle. Even if bits of it scream ‘change me, you hack’ you don’t have to do it right then and there. There’s never a shortage of editors or red pens.

    That’s been my experience at least, your mileage may vary – good luck with your novel and other projects!

  5. izanobu

    I finished the novel the first time. It had all the parts it needed to be technically a story. The problem is that the writing on a basic level was crap and didn’t feel like my writing should feel. I edited about half of it before realizing that it would be simpler to fix all the issues I want to fix by just rewriting the whole thing.
    I have no problem just writing and turning off the internal editor. Sometimes I think it would go better later if I turned it on sometimes during the process.

    It’s interesting to get comments about other people’s take. I always enjoy hearing about other people’s process. Though it often serves me a cold reminder that sadly I seem to have different issues as a writer than a vast majority of others. Makes it hard to find advice that works for me. Oh well.

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