Writing Progress: Sometimes You Have To Start Over

Current Total Word Count: 11,613.

Today I wrote on a day I’m supposed to be off the project.  I didn’t write yesterday.  There were just too many things going on.

Not only that, I had to completely rethink the project.

I’d written about 7 chapters of novel when I realized that I didn’t like the way that the story was progressing, and not only that I developed several aspects about my characters that I wanted to explore but had already moved past a point to introduce them.  This is really a difficult spot for any writer to put themselves in, and I’d like to share how I went about fixing the problem.

  1. Thank God for Scrivener – Scrivener is great because I can write entire chapters, take a snapshot of them and then re-write them.  If I don’t like the re-write and then later say something like “Hey, I really liked the way that was before”, I can go back and restore them as they were originally written.  It also keeps track of daily word count goals and many other things that make my job as a novelist that much easier.
  2. Rich Subtext – I want my novel to have some rich subtext, and the problem I had was that it was turning out like just another action adventure novel.  I wanted there to be a little more edgy, gritty trouble for my heroes and I wanted to spend a little more time building up the conflict between the new villain and my hero.  Not to mention the fact that I have to introduce the female hero a little better since she is such a strong female character.  The way I’d introduced her before was much weaker than the re-write.
  3. I Am Better Than That – I would write entire chapters, go back and look at them, and realize that I’m a much better writer than what I put on the page.  I really love challenging myself as a writer, and I’m sure my readers appreciate it when I do.  Nobody wants to read something I just “phoned in”, so I have made it a goal to make sure that each chapter of the novel is crucial to driving the story forward and at the same time filled with rich symbolism, metaphor and subtext.

The point here is that writers should never feel like its too late to start completely over with a scene or a section of a novel.  If we are hyper-critical of our text, we will be much better writers.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

9 thoughts on “Writing Progress: Sometimes You Have To Start Over

  1. I used to resist, thinking that I spent so much time writing certain scenes that it’d be a waste to rewrite. Now that I can see that scrapping is sometimes necessary, and even refreshing. Relieved to hear that others do this and that it’s normal!

  2. Very well said. Unlike painting, our canvas is more like an etch-a-sketch. If we don’t like what we’ve crafted, we can shake it a bit and improve the result. The great thing about today’s e-books is that you can improve your product after the fact. I haven’t done too much of this, but my early books had some boneheaded stuff that I was able to correct.

    1. Thank you, Don. I agree. I love the fact that I can see something weeks after a book is published and then just go change it. It makes for a much more interesting dynamic for readers.

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