Friday, October 12, 2012

Starting Over

This week I did something I thought I'd never do.
I took 38,000 words and put them to the side.
I opened up a brand new file and started again.

Same characters, same theme of grief, healing, and finding yourself separate from your parents.
Originally I had it set in suburban Maryland.
Now the setting is split between suburban Georgia and Costa Rica.

Why, you might ask, would you throw away 38,000 perfectly fine words?

Because of this.

Words Are Cheap.

Yep, I can write new ones and with a clearer direction, they'll hopefully end up how they're supposed to, weaving and knitting and drawing a story that not only has pretty language, but tells a tale.

What about you? Have you ever taken a sharp detour while writing and had to park the car, get out a map, and start over again? Did you bemoan the loss of the roads left behind?

Talk to me!

24 comments:

  1. I did it a couple years ago with CHLOE. Dumped 30K and started over. No regrets. ^_^ Those 30K weren't useless though, they helped me know the story and characters better. It was scary, but I'm so glad I did it. Congrats on the brave move, sistah!

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    1. I don't think I'll regret it, and I may be able to salvage a scene or two.

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  2. I just had to do this. It was THE HARDEST thing. I had 15 drafts....and had finally gotten from 46,000 words to 60,000 words when I was told i needed to start over. I'm now at 17,000 words and even though it was terrifying I know my writing is better for it :) we can do this together, Jaye!

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    1. Oh wow. That really is starting over. I remember you talking about this on Twitter. I'm only at 2500 new words, so you've got a start on me.

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  3. I think I might have to start over as well. I started a new novel a few days ago, but it just didn't translate as well as I would have liked it to onto the page.

    Good luck with your novel, Jaye.

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    1. Thanks Tracey! I'm usually pretty hard core about just getting it down without turning around. But I knew for this one the unraveling would be too hard if I did that.

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  4. It's hard -- oh, so hard. But yes, I have done it. And cheers to your new version.

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  5. I actually abandoned two complete novels and re-planned the whole series (a 5-book series), essentially starting from scratch, so I know how it feels!

    Something that might help you with your research: I wrote a series of blog posts on my trip to Costa Rica over the summer on my blog - a lot of it's about my bad experiences with a disorganised volunteer organisation, but you might find something useful in there! :) http://throughthegateway.blogspot.co.uk/

    Good luck with your rewriting :)

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    1. Oh thank you so much, Emma! Will check out your posts.

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  6. Yes, I've done it. It can be hard at first, but you're right; words are cheap. It's kind of like what they used to say about film back in the days of film cameras. The first thing you learn is that film is cheap, and you have to take a lot of shots to get the good ones.

    And those words you cast aside might still be useful for "spare parts" someday.

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    1. Yes, I didn't hit delete. I hope to be able to use a scene or two.

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  7. Oh my goodness, did you write this post for me? That is so where I am right now. I call it "pretty words all in a row," but they're not really telling the story. And starting over with a blank page is what I was thinking I would have to do. Guess I'll join you.

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    1. Yes I did, Linda! I didn't know it at the time, however :0)

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  8. Been there. I've thrown away many words. I've turned my back on whole manuscripts. If it isn't working, it isn't working. No need to give up, just try again or write something new.

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    1. Exactly Emily! I was like, why am I fighting this? This sucks! It felt good to start over.

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  9. I always hate doing this, but I certainly have a whole lot. Sometimes it's just not working out, and starting over is the only way to get the direction right! Best of luck on the new detour!

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    1. Thanks Meradeth, Hopefully this path is straighter.

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  10. Great job, Jaye, and one that not many dare to do!
    Starting fresh can be the best choice you ever made. It sure was for me. I threw ~70K away, and never looked back. The story's much stronger now than that gibberish back then. I'm sure you're gonna be better off. Those 38K were glorious practice.

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    1. Wow! 70k! You and Rachel are deletion goddesses!

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  11. A brave thing to do (scares me anyway!) but if something isn't working it's probably the right thing to do. Good luck.

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    1. Yep, it took a moment of pause and worry that I was simply avoiding. But it already feels better at a brand new 3k

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  12. I've left many words behind! I try not to mourn the loss...it's tough!

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    1. Yes - I have to keep them in a special file where I can pull them out and pet them.

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