The pain of starting over...

Hey y'all, have you ever been over 1,000s of words into a book to realize later, it's just not the story you had in mind?

 

Well, that's what happened to me. I was over 13,000 words into my book and realized it just wasn't the story I wanted and it was hard keeping track of everything going on in the story, so I decided to start over.

 

Also, I'm thinking it will be a novella, not a novel. I'm over 6,000 words into the new version of the book, and I already like the story more. It's more formulaic and easier to keep track of what the heck is going on. It's more of an action story than fantasy now. I am keeping the original version of the story just in case and I might finish it as an alternate version to the book since I do like a lot of aspects of the original.

 

But have you ever been this far into a story and realized it just wasn't the story you wanted to write? Did you start over like me, or did you keep going?

 

The story now is a little more realistic, except it still takes place in a fantasy world. The original just got too crazy and confusing. It was going all over the place. I like the new draft much better. Smiley Happy

Comments

  • Been there. Many years ago, in my callow youth, I was feverishly working on a story and I really liked the antagonists, but couldn't get a bead on another character that was essential to the plot. A simple name change fixed that and he quickly became my favorite character. Unfortunately, after setting the work aside for some time, when I went back, I realized the antagonists were painfully silly and cliche. I still have the manuscript sitting around and may overhaul it. The novel started off as a piece of genre fiction, but as I've gotten older, I've moved away from genre writing altogether. 

  • Yeah, I'm pretty good at writing villains. Not too cliché hopefully. Also, I'm over 6,000 words into the second draft and I like it so much better. I'm a big fan of the action-adventure genre as well as fantasy, so this is sort of a dream project of mine.

    I'd say go with the overhaul, but only if it's a story you want to tell. Smiley Happy
  • Don't feel bad, I think most writers do that. I have one that is on my desktop that is half done but not really what it started out to be.

  • oncewasoncewas Librarian

    Demcleod

     

    The most difficult lesson is learning to let go. You think "if I write this story I can't write it again, or I can't use these characters again".

     

    It sounds absurd, but it happens. Sometimes you just have to let go of a whole story. Other times can tell the same story in a different way so that it sounds fresh, and new. There is, after all, nothing new under the sun; every story that we seek to tell has probably been told before. All we can do is perfect our way of telling the story.

     

     Why not let your story lie quietly in the background while you work on something else? You might come back to it later and use all, or part, of it.

  • I maintain a file cabinet with a kind of a scrap heap in it. Sometimes a scene I really like from a story I scrapped will fit nicely into a new story. Other times, you have to let an entire story go.

    I had a story... Possibly my best ever... All the way to cover art, ready to upload, and I had to let it go. It happens. Mourn. Move on. Let the false start be a stepping stone to a better novel later on.
  • It'll be worth it in the end.

     

    I wrote my wip in first person and got a few chapters in before realising it needed to be in third person so went through and rewrote it. Then I decided rthat was a bad idea.

     

    Now I've got two versions and I don't like either of them. I wish there was another person I could write it in.

  • Thanks, guys.

    As far as letting go, the second draft is nothing like the first and I like it much, much better. It's not the same story at all, except the beginning. So yeah, I think the first version of the story will go. It's not the story I wanted to tell, but the second one actually is. Smiley Happy

  • Richard_Coady wrote:

    It'll be worth it in the end.

     

    I wrote my wip in first person and got a few chapters in before realising it needed to be in third person so went through and rewrote it. Then I decided rthat was a bad idea.

     

    Now I've got two versions and I don't like either of them. I wish there was another person I could write it in.


    Have you considered an authorial omniscient with sliding perspective? It has the best of both worlds: Intimacy into the characters' minds and yet the ability to reveal to the reader things unknown to the characters.

     

    I've also see stories written in the second person, though that is difficult to maintain for more than perhaps a couple thousand words.

  • Much like Skoob, I maintain a file (on my desktop, not an actual file cabinet) filled with half finished (or half started, I suppose) stories. One is even over 100k words, and is basically done, but I realized once I finished the climax that I didn't know how to finish the story and set it aside. 

     

    It's all practice, every word we write is training for the next one. That's the perspective I try to have anyway. It helps me feel less dismal about all those words no one is ever going to read.

  • This is testimony to the value of forward planning. I always have a synopsis before embarking on a novel. I consider the synopsis one that a potential publisher could understand and be thoroughly intrigued by. If the synopsis sounds dumb, then the story will be dumb. Strong characters and dialogue carry the story and these are created from what you can glean from life experience. I always carry a journal and listen to 'street talk,' making use of interesting conversations I've heard. The story itself can be from life experiences that can be placed into fictional scenarios. That is the talent of the creator. I've never had to abandon an entire project as a result. Place yourself in the story and live it out before you write.  


  • Skoob_Ym wrote:

    Richard_Coady wrote:

    It'll be worth it in the end.

     

    I wrote my wip in first person and got a few chapters in before realising it needed to be in third person so went through and rewrote it. Then I decided rthat was a bad idea.

     

    Now I've got two versions and I don't like either of them. I wish there was another person I could write it in.


    Have you considered an authorial omniscient with sliding perspective? It has the best of both worlds: Intimacy into the characters' minds and yet the ability to reveal to the reader things unknown to the characters.

     

    I've also see stories written in the second person, though that is difficult to maintain for more than perhaps a couple thousand words.


    That's pretty much the approach I've settled on (for now - I haven't been outside to check which way the wind's blowing today). The story is being told from the point of view of multiple (mainly two) characters. I really liked some of the first person stuff, but then I realised that the first person would need to change between the two main characters, and that just gets confusing.

     

    I agree that second person can be difficult to pull off. It's certainly not something I've ever considered. Bit too experimental for me.

  • While that's great advice, not everyone can write this way. I personal always start stories from a situation. Like, "what if some awoke one day to discover they were a giant beetle", then let the story unfold. I never know much about my characters or the actual plot until I start writing, and generally this results in a "short" version of the longer story, which I enlarge and refine in the second draft.

     

    I would love to have the ability to start with a synopsis, as it would likely save me from the many unfinished stories I've got stored away, but I simply cannot write that way.

  • Well, guys, I reached another hurdle in my story and just needed to take a break from the novel. I wasn't as fond of it as I thought.

    But I've been writing much shorter stories, mostly fairy tales and I really enjoy writing them. I've written so many stories within a couple days that I was able to publish a collection just now.

    I'll come back to the novel, I'm sure, but I needed a break from it and to try something new. I really enjoy writing short stories and I feel it's something else I'm quite good at. I have a little ADD when it comes to stories, so I don't like sticking to one story for long. Short stories are fun and gives me the variety in my spotlight I've long wanted.

    I'm super happy about the book I just published. It's short, but I'm happy with it. Smiley Happy
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