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To Start Over or Not to Start Over?

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Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:07 am
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PerforatedxHearts says...



I'm not sure if that's much of a question, but many writers struggle with this problem. I mean, who honestly wants to push aside all the hard work they've done for the past God-knows-how-much months or years. I know, I know, yada yada. I've been struggling with posthumous TKWC! startover myself.

Reasons Why Authors Ludicrously Start Over:

1. An element of the novel [characters, setting, plot, dialogue, CHARACTERS] is not fully realized and understood.

2. Writer's Block.

3. Perfectionism.

4. Bad criticsm.

5. The computer screwed up. Your notebook got thrown into the Nile. You're too poor to afford more pens/pencils priced at $1 for a 10-pack.

6. You've got a side project that you <i>really really</i> wanna work on because you know it's just going to be that NY Times Bestsellers #1 on the list and kick Stephenie Meyer and Meg Cabot off the list. In one shot, no less.

7. You just don't want to do it anymore.

8. [The above] #7 happens due to #6.

Remedies for the Reasons:

[For] 1.By all means, if you feel like that crucial element in the novel is not where you want it to be, ESPECIALLY CHARACTERIZATION, you start that novel over, mister and missy. These kinds of parts play such an important role in a novel and can affect the difference between a reader going past the very first page, or a paragraph, and a reader closing the book. Also, if your characters aren't developed right, where's character development gonna lead you?

Yes, that's right, dear ones. NOWHERE.

So set everything straight. Even if you're halfway done with the novel like I was, make sure you do it right. That way you won't have to start over again and have to replan/rewrite all the things because in a epiphinatic [not sure if that's a word] moment you realized that, "Oh, the character shouldn't be talking like that" or "Gosh. Is this in Hoboken or Portland? What to do?"

2. Let's just say that even though this is a sad, sad excuse, the matter of Writer's Block is true and inevitable.

If you're like me, that is to say procrastinator, then do yourself a favor and take a break from the story [say 2 or 3 days]. Listen to music. Check out some good books from the library.

If you're one of those people who are so self-disciplined that they write each and every day, no matter what they're feeling and/or thinking, then set it aside and write some short stories, or do those silly prompts that so many sites offer. Which is pretty much, take a break from the story and write other things.

Here are some helpful sites for those and more:


Fiction Fix- Remedies for Writer's Block.

Writer's Digest Writing Prompts.

A Major Treasure Mine For All of the Problems Mentioned in This Blog AKA Dragon Writing Prompts.

Seventh Sanctum.


3. Get over yourself and understand that no writer on earth can write a perfect first draft. When you have understood this, stop flagellating you and your manuscript and keep writing until you're done. THEN you can edit.

4. Tell the bad critiquer to take that advice and suck it.

Nah, just kidding.

To not beat yourself up over a particularly harsh review, know first what a good and a bad review consists of.

Snoink explains this nicely: "No, you DON'T suck. Honestly.


5. Get a USB disk thingy. You know what I'm talking about.

...Why are you living near the Nile?

Aw, pity. Maybe if you shoplift Dollar General you can actually get your money's worth.

Honestly? If you lose your novel on the computer, either have everything written down in your notebooks like I do, or get the USB stick. It's the most practical.

6. Side projects should stay side projects. Wait a little while for that great idea to settle down, and then in about 2 weeks reevaluate exactly why you want to do the novel and how you're going to do it. Also, see if any words actually come to mind. Otherwise, KEEP YOUR EYES ON THAT FIRST MANUSCRIPT. Childhood rules do play into the little game of writing: I WAS HERE FIRST!

7. Well, there's also that inevitable "I don't want to do this anymore" phase. It'll come to you EVERY TIME. So suck it up, take some time off from your novel, and wait for the words to come to you.

8. Shame on you.

Naw, I was just kidding, mostly. Then you really need to take time off from all your novel writing and brood on it for a while. 3 weeks or so, for procrastinators, 1 1/2 weeks for aforementioned self-disciplined. This is of your own volition, not some simple thing I can tell you to do and to not do.

Think about this: If someone told you that, no matter what, your novel of 1 year, 5 years, 10 years was never going to be published and that you don't have to write it anymore, how would you feel? Devastated? Free?

Apply that to your novel, as well as that intruder side project idea.
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