Writing Q&A Number 7

Young couple has some dangerous hobby
From Hope:
Over the past year I have written out a manuscript, gone through and fixed grammar errors, etc., but recently I’ve gotten some feedback and have rewritten the whole beginning. Now I’m going through the manuscript again, but because I wrote new decisions and goals in the beginning that affect later in the story, I’m trying to fit the beginning with the middle and end, but it’s getting a little messy and at this point I have no idea where the story is going. I know how it ends, but it’s everything between the new beginning and last few pages that sort of got messed up. Do you have any advice on how to get myself out this mess?

My answer is likely to make you cringe. First, save your current manuscript under a different name, something like “Hope’s Draft Before Changes.” Then set your cursor at the end of the new beginning, delete everything from there to the end of the manuscript, and start writing from that point. Yes, rewrite it all from that point on.

From my experience, I have found that, in a situation such as yours, it is easier to start fresh rather than try to trudge through and tweak a mountain of text that no longer works. You might remember paragraphs here and there that do work, and you can copy them over from your previous draft, but with the old draft no longer in your way, I think you will find the going easier. And, of course, you can copy your ending back from your old draft, but you might find that you will create an even better one with this effort and no longer need the old one.

In writing, there is no substitute for hard work. Sometimes you just have to accept the challenge and march ahead.

If anyone has ideas to add, be sure to comment, and if you have a question you would like to see addressed here, then send it to blogqa@daviscrossing.com.


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5 replies

  1. This is a feeling that I know so, so well, and unfortunately, Mr. Davis pretty much nailed it. I’ve done that process several times. For me, at least, I would make a blank page before the old stuff and start re-writing the the new stuff above it, so that the old stuff was close by in case I needed to refer to it again.

  2. I agree with Mr. Davis.

    If you don’t feel like rewriting it all right now, you might think about setting the projects aside for at least a few weeks or longer. Set a deadline for yourself for when you pick up the project again, but go ahead and pick it up before then if you have a big burst of inspiration that makes you want to work on it sooner. Setting a project aside for a while can be helpful, as it actually increases the chances of an author finding things they want to change in the manuscript and therefore motivating them to rewrite it.

  3. Hope, I’d have to say Mr. Davis is right. Which officially makes me a hypocrite, because I was given similar advice for one of my messed-up books, and ignored it, merely editing the whole thing. 😛 But, I do believe that if you reference the old version, find out what changed, and write it down, then you’ll be able to figure out the rewrite way better. I had to delete a whopping three chapters (hahahahaha) in my book when I edited it. It’s likely you will probably be able to salvage, but it must be remembered not to fall into the same pit again. 🙂 Hope this helps! 😀

  4. Thank you so much, Mr Davis! And everyone else for your advice and suggestions, I will definitely try this!

  5. I agree with Bryan Davis. One thing I will say, is as someone whose first book had four drafts, doing a rewrite was much easier for me than doing the original. This is because I already know where the story is going. It also makes it easy to cut out bad scenes without fear that something important was in there. Almost all my stories have to be written twice before I consider them good enough to think about editing for publication.


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