The Inspiration in the Revision

A word of advice writers: If your plot is so complicated that you can’t keep details in check, it’s definitely going to be too complicated for your audience.

I’m speaking from experience. I’ve been neglecting the rough draft of one of my novels because I wasn’t sure how to fix what turned out to be an overcomplicated plot. The more I tried to fix it, the more complications I created and the less sense everything made. I was horribly confused by the details.

So I decided it was time to backtrack.

The scary thing about having to re-work a crucial part of your story is that you might have to completely re-write everything. It can feel like you wasted weeks of your life, as well as fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty thousand words. In my case, I estimate I’ll have to re-write a third of my book, most of that being the ending chapters.

No job is without its frustrations. Oddly enough, I feel more motivated to return to this story now. I’m fairly confident in these changes, liking some of them even better than what I had originally written. Once I get to the end, I think it will feel like I’m writing something completely new. Probably something better.

Writing is not as simple as some people think. If it were, all those people who say they’re thinking of writing a novel would have written one. If you’ve written an entire rough draft, there’s a sense of accomplishment to that. You know you’ve still got a long way to go, but there’s this great rush and you’re so damned overjoyed at what you’ve done.

So having to re-do a large portion of that can feel so overwhelming. Where inspiration once flowed, there’s nothing but annoyance. The worst feeling is when you know something needs to be fixed, but you have no idea how to fix it. Though I would go through each chapter, editing word choices and description and bits that didn’t feel right, I would eventually run into a massive roadblock. It was usually at a point where I knew a chapter would need to be re-written, but I didn’t know how. With no ideas on how to fix the issues within my narrative, I eventually turned to other projects, leaving my rough draft to collect metaphorical dust.

A new idea brings new inspirations and new writing challenges. Yes, I’ve possibly fixed the major errors in my plot’s climax, but how do I fix several points along the way? Why did so-and-so go and see this one character in this revision? Did he even need to go and see that character? Do I scrap some chapters entirely? There’s so many questions and so many chapters to fix.

Writing is a lot of work. Re-writing can be more so. Hopefully, you find your revised ideas as promising as I find mine.

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Categories: musings, On Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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