Take Me Back To The Start

As a general rule, I like revising.  I know there a lot of people who hate it, but I prefer playing with the words I’ve already written:  chopping, cutting, moving, shifting, shaking, and pushing them around.  Polishing them until they gleam.  Forcing them to say what I meant to say the first time through. 

A blank page is an invitation but what I do with it is never right the first time.

What I do find difficult about revising is going back to the beginning.  Once I’ve brought my first draft to the stage where I feel like it’s ready to be read by others, I feel like the character arcs have been completed.  Everyone’s journey is complete:  the main character has learned what she needs to learn about herself; the hero and heroine have been united; the villain has been punished. 

I’ll give you an example.

The second novel I wrote — the one that came this close to getting published — was revised so many times I really can’t count them.  My nemesis, the first chapter, was done and redone; characters were deleted; a major incident was moved from an early chapter to a later chapter and back again.  My main character’s name changed, and changed, and changed again.  Each time, I made my main character suffer more, a good thing from the story’s perspective but very hard for me, the writer, because the more I wrote her, the more I loved her, and the more I loved the closure of her story.  I shared her satisfaction with where she had ended up and her hopes and excitement about her future… which was by no means certain (and in her sequel, which exists only in my head, things do get dicey).  These emotions made it harder and harder to go back to the beginning to write the nervous, uncertain young woman that she was.  The woman who fought the wrong battles and trusted the wrong people. 

I just wanted to move forward.  To write that sequel.  To give her the rest of her story.   

Do you experience this as an author?  Do you feel almost like a reader when you are writing, feeling a sense of finality — not that the writing is complete, but that the story is?

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7 Responses to Take Me Back To The Start

  1. yhosby says:

    Yes, I experience this all the time. A story I’m working on now–I’ve changed two of the character’s names. The story is complete it just needs editing to make the words jump on the page; to arrange it so a reader will stay interested.

    I feel ya on loving your characters. You have to love and care enough about them to want to write about them. Hopefully, you’ll get this story published.

    Keep smiling,
    Yawatta

    • Thanks – I would love to see this novel published and have a chance to tell the rest of Rumer’s story. I am in this same situation with the novel I’m working on now and the MC’s transformation is even more dramatic. *sigh*

  2. Nancy Sima says:

    Hi Maryanne, I’ve always thought that beginnings were tough… so much depends upon them. Recently, I put aside my beginnining for a bit figuring I needed to get down the overall storyline before I could do it justice, but in reading your post, I wonder…how hard or easy will it be to go back to the beginning? For myself, I don’t know but wishing you all the best in tackling it. Take care!

    • Sometimes, the beginning does need to wait for the end; don’t get bogged down. You’ll come up with a million different things you want to add or change about the beginning. Yes, there are challenges about going back but you also have a lot of wisdom. Good luck with what you’re working on!

  3. I am the SAME way. I’m so ready to progress with my characters… but it’s not time yet. It’s very difficult for me to keep reworking the same story (though it has changed SO much it’s hardly the same story anymore).

  4. I just printed out my MS so I could get my hands on it for this latest round of revisions. I’m hoping that it will help with this problem in particular. I find that I see the MS differently when it’s in print as opposed to looking at it on the screen. Does anyone else see things that way?

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