Starting Over… Kinda

I had a realization while lying in bed last night: my novel is broken beyond what a simple edit can do and the only solution is to start over. I’m not starting over entirely–I will keep some of what I have written–but I’m going back to the drawing board. My biggest problem was conveying the information I needed to get across. Writing a combination of dystopian and fantasy means I have a lot of worldbuilding to do. I have to establish the rules of magic, the varieties of magic and the politics that influence it while also giving some clues as to why the world is screwed up, the state of society, who’s in charge and why they suck. And that’s only part of the job.

So I’m trying something new. I’m putting down all the information I know about the world of the story into a separate word document. Hopefully this will give me more direction when I start writing again and I’ll avoid the gaping plot holes I had to contend with in the original novel. It will also help me foreshadow later events in other books and I can pick and choose what information to share and what to hide.

This should give me a clearer picture of the overall storyline and prevent fridge logic. Fridge logic sucks. I would very much like my novel to make some kind of sense. I better get back to it, given the enormous task I have ahead of me.

18 thoughts on “Starting Over… Kinda

  1. I remember doing this once. I ended up starting from scratch three times over though, not just twice. It did help, but only so much, because I couldn’t murder my darlings. Eventually I gave up on it.

    Strangely enough, although it’s a different story, I’m seeing similar themes and situations come through in my new WIP. So even if you don’t manage to fix this one this time through, it’s highly likely you’ll get to explore a similar story further down the track. Good luck with it though :)

    • I’m getting better a murdering my darlings, so hopefully I’ll be able to fix this novel. It’s my baby, and I’m going to try my damnedest to get it published. Good luck with your WIP :)

  2. That’s a major task for anyone. All writers have to establish the rules of their world, but this is particularly harder in your genre. I’ve had to do the same, but since mine is urban fantasy, its easier. You’ve certainly got a big task ahead and after three rewrites, I know. Good luck!

    • Thanks. I’ve never made things easy for myself, from the time I was a little kid. Lucky for me most of what I need is already hiding up in my head. I just need to coax it out, polish it and fill in the holes. Time is going to be a bigger commitment than brains right now. I’m sure that’ll change once I start hashing out a new plot.

  3. It’s hard to start over again. Believe me, I’ve done it, I know. But I find that, when it’s in the kind of shape where you know you have to, it does get better. When I did it, I found that I was able to clarify a lot of things for myself, important things. I wish you luck, and I’ll be watching for updates :) It’s all part of finding your best process, right?

  4. I know how overwhelming this kind of revising can be. I like to think of it as literally “re-seeing” the story. Look at the world and characters you’ve already created (which is a huge accomplishment!!) and see what is there, what is missing, what you see if you look deeper. Good luck!

  5. It seems like a major plan and a lot of work but you thought it through and you know what´s best for your novel! It takes courage to undertake such changes…Good luck! :D

  6. I’ve heard it said that, sometimes, losing your entire draft can be a great thing for a writer, because when you re-write it, you only keep the best stuff, the scenes, dialogue, and descriptions that stuck in your mind the most. Good luck.

  7. Hi, Ann Elise! Found you on she writes (writers for YA). So, I’m in the middle of revising my extremely-way-too-long YA novel, and I’ve sort reached the same point. It’s beyond broken, and I am beginning to think it may be best just to start over.

    Starting over makes my skin crawl and my left eye twitch, but I think it may be necessary. The premise is awesome, the idea rocks, however the writing sucks. I began the novel three years ago, and oh, what I’ve learned in the meantime! It’s amazing what a bit of study will do for your technique! My style was all over the place and jumped between my MC and a strange version of myself. Looking back, I wonder was I in full character mode, or was I writing the story from my own perspective?

    I guess that means the “voice” is completely off.

    Thanks for the post, it really opened my eyes to the fact that starting over doesn’t exactly mean failure. :))

    • You’re welcome. I’m having voice troubles as well. I guess it stems from me not knowing the MC well enough before I started. I grew to know him over the succession of drafts. He’s currently making an idiot out of himself as he meets his love interest :)

      Things are progressing nicely on my end and I hope it’s going as well for you. I’m still in the first chapter, but I’ve got my groove back.

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