Writing and re-writing…

Are you all ready for my dilemma of the day? I am in the process of writing my first novel (for myself) and I am four or five chapters into it, when my random imagination takes a turn and has me going back to re-write the first chapter. Do you know what that means? It means that it changed everything.

Is this normal? I am basically starting from scratch again. The same basic idea is there, and the gist of the book is the same, but how it all unravels is completely different.

I am going to save the chapters that are already written to see if they will fit in later, but I have a feeling that they won’t. I laugh at myself because when I am ghost writing I never have this problem. I wonder what the difference is? Maybe I care more and really, really want this to be a good read. I don’t know. Because I really do care when I am writing for others, but this just seems different.

Please tell me what you all think. Am I crazy or do a lot of you do the same thing?

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39 thoughts on “Writing and re-writing…

  1. In the last five years, my Chapter 1 has seen about six different versions. Even the one now lacks imagery that I know I need to add…So…It will continue to unfold. The premise of the story has remained constant. I’ve changed things like characteristics of certain characters, the name of the town, where certain action scenes take place, etc. I’ve also slowed the romance down. I swear it will be another five years before this sucker is ready for anyone to sit down and read cover-to-cover. I think it’s normal to want to strive for the perfect story – especially when it’s your work. And going to be published under your name. 🙂

  2. I hate it when that happens, Angela! It’s bad enough to simply dislike a passage you’ve just done but where it doesn’t influence anything else. In fact, it was a big deletion that brought me to a grinding halt with my own novel. I think you’re right, in that you probably care more about your story and characters. Be wary though – don’t just hack things out and abandon any hope of going back. You could find that you end up mixing the two versions!

    You’re definitely NOT crazy! It’s a very common occurrence.

  3. Hi! Thanks for the follow.
    As I understand it, it is completely normal for the beginning of a novel to be rewritten quite a few times. I’d say you should let yourself go through one or two rewrites to begin with, then continue onto the next chapters. You could (and will most definitely) go back to rework the beginning at a later stage. As your themes and imagery develop, you can start fiddling with the first few chapters in order to prepare the reader for them, and perhaps foreshadow some main events.

  4. Been there! But keep writing. Your story changes, but until you write the whole thing you won’t see it as a whole product. Remember it won’t be perfect. That’s what editors are for. They see the bigger picture. Keep writing!

  5. As you write, you’ll find your story taking on a life of its own, taking twists and turns you never expected. It’s okay, it’s supposed to do that. Rewriting the beginning, the middle, the end, it happens to every writer. And, in my case, I find as my skills improve and my writing becomes more experienced, I go back and rewrite, adapting those skills to what I’ve already written.

    Stories are unique creatures. Once they’re put down on paper, they’re given breath, and they will tell their creator where they want to go, and it may even be down a path you never intended, or don’t even really care for. But in the end, it all has purpose.

  6. I loved your post, and I empathised, oh, how I empathised! I was about one-third of the way through my first draft when I decided to ‘kill’ a character – that’s a big change to make! Lately I’ve been experimenting with tense, and changed around 30,000 words from past tense to present tense, before deciding it wouldn’t work and changing it back…. I think this kind of ‘big’ editing is entirely normal, even if it does have you coming out in a sweat. But you’re right – never throw anything away. I keep a document called ‘Deleted Stuff’, a repository for abandoned paragraphs, chapters and even odd phrases. Nothing is ever wasted……

  7. Yup…one of those neat things about what we do. I’m 15,000 words into my sequel and while putting together a “flashback” scene I realized I’d written it in “real time” thus it becomes a prequel. Now I’m struggling with how to put it all together as I really like both approaches (especially the prequel). I look at it as a bit more experience and I have found that generally the story line improves once you get by the hiccups.

  8. I’m in the third total revision my memoir. It’s had three titles, several additions, a few deletions. I also save everything in case I want it later. I usually put it in a scraps file or just save it under a similar name with a note that it was removed. Good luck.

  9. Brilliant! I think that’s great to go back at such an early stage and do a rewrite; I usually find when I’ve finished something that my precious and beautifully penned opening chapter is actually rubbish, and then I need a rewrite, and then it’s a big issue! Keep the old stuff, you may find they turn into something completely different!

  10. I have written a lot of military documents and they have taken many rewrites. Many reviews by myself and others because we are so close to the forrest we can’t see the trees. Hope this help.

  11. I do the same thing! Sometimes you get to know your characters as you go along and something you’ve written prior doesn’t gel right. It’s worth it to me to change as I go even though it slows things down a bit. Save the old stuff though in case you change your mind again!!

  12. No you’re not crazy, it’s just your creativity kicking in. When looking back on old writing, what we’ve learned since then and how our creative expression has evolved means you are able to spot places where changes and improvements could be made, more easily. It’s up to you whether you make those changes or leave it as it is and use the new ideas for a new book.

  13. Yep, totally normal. In my current work in progress the story line has change three times so far and it has gotten better each time. At least I think so anyway. For me, I usually have so many ideas its a matter of choosing the best ones or the ones that work together best and going from there. At the beginning so many ideas compete for my attention I can’t choose which direction to take the story.

  14. Hello Angela….first of all, thank you for stopping by marc’s blog and becoming a follower which, I am sorry to say, does prove you are crazy. Welcome to the crowd. Regarding your first novel…I am just beginning my second and it’s an ever-evolving process and one that you will customize in ways that best fit you and your work style. My only advice is to set up a good solid filing system for each project and save EVERYTHING because you will find yourself changing things constantly and wanting to go back and check or retrieve something. Also, probably like you, I read lots of advice books and blogs…one of the best for new folks like us is thecreativepenn.com. It offers a lot of free and fee-based info that you may find helpful. Meanwhile, I have not gone though all your “stuff” but if you haven’t already, I would like to hear how you got up and running in your freelance writing efforts. I am thinking about doing that myself, just for grins and maybe a few extra dollars for dog and cat food–those rascals sure can eat. Okay, enough…best!

    • Thank you Marc!! And crazy describes me quite well. he he Thank you for the great advice and I will be heading over to check out that website soon. As far as my freelance work, I haven’t done an actual post about it but have just made comments. But now that you mention it, maybe I should. Be looking for it at some point this week. Thanks again. 🙂

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