This may surprise other writers: Even though I’ve received praise from editors and beta-readers regarding the current draft of my novel, I’ve decided to simply start fresh and rewrite at least the first ½ of my story.
Do I need to do that? Nope. People have enjoyed my first half but agree it could be better. I don’t need to throw it out, just make some changes. A few editors from small presses have told me they would like me to do a rewrite and then resubmit. This would not require throwing away the first 150 pages.
So why am I? Because it’s an interesting challenge and once I started, I was having too much fun to stop.
What have I learned so far? Not only is this an exciting writing exercise/challenge, but I’m finding that the writing in this version is stronger. Maybe I’ve grown as a writer since I originally penned those pages or maybe I have internalized what I want to say so that it comes out with new grace. In any case, the words are flowing and, even when I read back over them a week later, these passages are often better than what I’ve written before!
Try this for yourself! You will be surprised and pleased!
My self-imposed rules:
- Though I am following a similar outline as my original, I cannot “copy and paste” from any of my previous drafts—everything has to be written as if for the first time.
- I must make at least one significant change to each chapter or scene.
The overall plot is not changing—it is still the same story with the same premise, character arcs, themes, etc. The individual scenes are significantly different, however, so the story will seem entirely new. Forcing myself to change things I loved in my previous draft is exciting! I’ve discovered what I’ve heard filmmakers claim for years: that restrictions and limitations only increase creativity. For example, ever since I first got the idea for my story, I’ve had a clear vision for the scene in which King Arthur pops up in modern day. Despite all my drafts, that one incident has remained fairly constant. Now I’ve reimagined how he might appear. I forced myself to do something different. And you know what? I think I like my alternate better!
So what can I do with the results? Simple. I’ll have two distinct versions of (at least) the first ½ of my novel. These versions will share many structural similarities (still writing many of the same scenes, with similar action and conversations), but the sentence to sentence similarities will be virtually non-existent. In the end, I’ll be able to “cherry pick” the best scenes, in some cases the best sentences or descriptive details, and then make a cohesive 3rd version that is the best of both and that still leads to a satisfying ending.
Is that possible? Yeah. I think so. And even if it doesn’t work out, I’m having a lot of fun re-imagining my scenes. Wish me luck and give it a try! Let me know what you think of your results!