Yesterday, I dumped 16,000 words of my latest WIP in my never-to-return folder and started over again. Did the writing suck? I like to think not, but I’d gotten to the point that I could see a better way to write the book. When this happens, dump the old manuscript and start over from scratch. You will thank yourself.
Really, 16,000 words isn’t a big deal. I’ve rewritten entire books (one of them twice). This time, it came to me that I could strengthen the entire story if I changed the basic make-up of my antagonist.
“What?” you say. “You’re changing the entire story to work around your antagonist?” Well…yeah. As a serial revisionist, I make changes to my manuscripts all the time, but there was no way to work around something this big. Here are the reasons:
- My characters’ actions are married to the plot—antagonists included. If the antagonist does something differently or is a different person altogether, the plot must change.
- The major antagonist’s traits echo the protagonist in some ways (personal preference), so when he changes, she must change.
- If the protagonist changes in her desires and actions—even small shifts—the plot is directly affected in fundamental ways.
I know I don’t have to do the above—that my characters’ basic make-up and the plot do not need to be so closely connected…but I can’t help myself. I am not a writer who sits down and speedily bangs out a book (though instinct and discovery writing definitely have their place in the drafting process). I am a writer who spaces out while leaning over blank notebook pages, and—let’s be honest—at various other points during my day. Only after weeks of this daydreaminig will I sit down and begin to write about characters, settings, plot points, experimental scenes, etc. in a notebook. Often, I’ll write through half the notebook and start over again because I figured out a better way to plot it—a way in which everything was connected. Then, and only then, do I begin drafting.
And now I’ll start over again. Happily. 🙂
Have you ever burned it all to the ground and started from scratch? Share below!