Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CHANGE the plot? Actually CHANGE it?

I've got to go here with you, because it's another one of those writerly moments-of-arrival.

Picture this: Girl finishes second draft of dystopic YA. Girl sends draft to Illustrious Reader. Illustrious Reader pours herself into Girl's work, sending a detailed editorial letter AND--here's the best part--comments in red throughout the entire manuscript.

(Either this Reader is beyond amazing in the World of Writerliness, or she loves me. Or both.)

End result? Illustrious Reader writes, If it looks like I'm asking for a huge rewrite, it's true. I am. And I realize that's exactly what I need to do.

So I put the manuscript aside for a little while, dug into the rewrite of my beloved MG Fantasy. Then, tentatively, I pulled it back out.

And. Wow.

The whole "change the plot" thing? The boogieman that taunts you in your sleep? Your book's a failure! If you have to rewrite plot, you suck! Chuck it all aside! Meh. I've overcome it.

Today, I begin chapter 6. Pressing onward, resolutely.

And loving it! That's the most amazing part of all. Loving my new, actually-doing-something-that-takes-guts protagonist. The firmer worldbuilding foundation. The excitement of paring down prose to clean freshness.

All this, after reading Hunger Games and feeling inept for a day. All this, after telling Mr. A I was going to put the YA away indefinitely.


So press on with me! Press on through your worldbuilding and plotting and tearing apart and re-plotting. The deeper you go into the process, the more BRILLIANT the journey. If you haven't experienced it yet, trust me! And if you have, you're nodding in vigorous agreement.

Weeeee! We lovess being a writer!


Selestial said...

Glad I wasn't the only one left feeling like a horrid writer after reading HUNGER GAMES. I would love a reader who wasn't afraid to give it to me straight (hoping my new beta reader is one of those).

Good luck with the re-write!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I knew there was reason why I haven't read HUNGER GAMES yet, other than it not being my type of YA book.

I have a couple of those wonderful beta readers in my crit group. They're not afraid to tell you when something sucks. Much better than the reader who tells you how awesome it is while snickering under her breath.

Paul Greci said...

Glad to hear that you are receiving good critique and using it. I know how that is. It's magic.
And yes, it is fun.
Good luck!

Kay Theodoratus said...

As a beginner, I've been thinking that rewriting is the keystone in writing. I wish you hadn't confirm my suspicion.

Glad it's working for you.

Beth said...

I recently finished up a major rewrite of my novel after receiving critical feedback. I completely removed 40,000 words, and yet ended up with over 10,000 words more on my manuscript. It was scary and humbling to begin the process again, but in the end it feels empowering.

I need to find a good critique group. That's the next step.

carolynyalin said...

Just found your blog. I like it :)
I resisted at first when told I needed to change things, now I realize "they" were right :)

Scott said...

I'm in firm believer in creating distance between yourself and your beloved manuscript. I normally set a three week span between revision phases. Why? Because distance normally provides the clarity I need to hone my manuscript into a shining beacon of brilliance! Okay, maybe not that bright, but close.

Best of luck with the rewrite. I'm in the same boat myself with a project.


Mystery Robin said...

I know how you feel - it's such a big breakthrough when you realize your novel isn't up to snuff, but get past the self doubt and realize how to make it better and then actually make it better! It's a fabulous feeling!

Mr A said...

We loves it, we loves it, tricksy new chapters to read. Looking forward to reading Chapter 4 tonight.

L. W. said...

Great post. Yes, time and distance help hugely. It's wonderful you've regained your excitement and have been able to benefit from those generous reader notes. I'm right there with you -- the idea of rewriting a MS I thought was done would have depressed me a month ago, but now (thanks to insightful notes from my own generous reader),it is FUN. Write on!

limabean said...

Wow... I completely know the feeling. That's almost word-for-word what I did with my current WIP last year when I realized it needed a rewrite (minus the Hunger Games part, anyway.) And you know what? It's way, way better now! Not perfect by a long shot, but I actually like some of my chapters at this point. So keep it up!

annarkie said...

Sometimes rewrites are where the true miracles happen and your story and characters are really brought to life.

Marie Andreas said...

Hear hear!
I think that is great, we get so caught up in a certain way our work must go that it sounds like blasphemy to suggest it could go a different direction, and perhaps be stronger .
I think part of it is that fear of being seen as a failure, as writers we have so few approval systems in place, so few ways of validation, that anything that smacks of “You have no idea what you’re doing and you’re a failure besides” is to be avoided at all costs.
But writing is from the heart and soul, outside validation shouldn’t weigh into it (it does- we’re human-LOL, but it shouldn’t.) We should be able to take joy in our creations, in the worlds we’ve created with our minds and some strokes on a keyboard. I think by rejoicing in why we write, in our creations and re-creations themselves, we become healthier, happier writers. And that means having the strength to re do an entire plot line, remove a favorite character, or survive callous arrows flung by agents and editors.
We muster on because we love what we do. And I am so grateful that our Authoress is here to cheer us forward, lead through example, and provide some guidance in a messy world.
Write on!


Nerd Goddess said...


(Hi, I'm new to your blog, but your voice is fabulous. I'll be sticking around.)

Donna Gambale said...

Congrats! That's such an exciting moment as a writer -- to stop fearing change and start letting it invigorate you.

Sharla said...

LOL I did that on my first novel, completely gutted and reworked it from beginning to end. Now....ironically after the SA contest I'm motivated to go back and rework it again...although not so bloodily.

Good luck!

Jenni Bailey said...

Yes, yes, I'm nodding. I hear ya. I'm doing the same exact thing right now.

school_of_tyrannus said...

that helped me. thanks!

lynnrush said...

Write on, sister! Hang in there, it is a fantastic journey!

Julie Dao said...

Rewrites can be painful but are almost always so rewarding! I hate chopping up my rough draft but in the end I'm always thankful for having done so.

DCS said...

Yeah---re-writing isn't so bad, especially when you compare the finished product with what went before. I'm currently 30K into a WIP and have gone back to the beginning to edit, submit chapters to a crit group and make sure I'm not going to need a major revision after 80K. I know some authors don't touch a thing until the first draft is done. There is something to be said for not letting the internal editor loose too soon. I figure they are a lot better than me; I know I have to do a lot to add tension, replace telling with showing and all those other craft flaws. If you throw a large plot hole on top of that, you are in real trouble.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm another Hunger Games fan. Great book!

I'm also with you on pressing on. When I decided on a major revision a while back, it took me a day or two to take the deep breath and start. But once I was in, loved it :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I am new to your blog and really like it. I'm glad you are pressing on with your revisions. I've been working on my mid-grade fantasy novel for over 6 years now, mostly revising after various critiques. Sometimes I think I must be the worst writer because it's taking so long to finish. But I keep coming back to it because I believe in my characters and the story. Each time I revise it, it's gets better. Now I'm less than 100 pages from the end of the story and feel good about this version. Hope your revisions go well.

I loved The Hunger Games & just finished Catching Fire, the sequel, which was just as good.