6 Things I’ve Learned Rewriting an Old WIP (IWSG March 2017)
March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?
Apologies for being late with the blog this month. Life has thrown me a few curve balls, and I’ve been struggling to fit in time to blog. I’ll probably be stepping back in frequency of posting over this month and the next few, hoping for two instructional/informational posts a month, and perhaps as many book reviews. Even my reading life has been molasses slow, and it’s been one thing after another it feels like. Sick kid, sick dog, traveling, deadlines, etc.
Anyway. Without further excuses, on to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group March posting.
It’s funny that the IWSG for March is exactly what I am currently doing.
I’ve mentioned it before, whether on the blog or on Instagram, but I’m reviving a women’s fiction story I wrote for National Novel Writing Month about five years ago. It’s been on the back burner for a long time, but it’s one of those stories that won’t let me go.
The difficulty in rewriting this WIP lies in a few fundamentals:
- I was a newer writer five years ago, and the language of this WIP is simple and less eloquent than my later stories.
- Because I was a newer writer, I didn’t bother with outlining or even planning the ending. Thus I had a meandering plot that was really two or three plots rolled into one, none of which were properly developed.
- I was writing to meet a quota (NaNoWriMo). While I’m not displeased that I wrote fast to get this story written, thus “winning” at NaNo, it did result in a haphazard, hastily written and, in my case, poorly plotted story.
Over the past month, I’ve been reading the original draft, actively outlining what I have, restructuring and outlining the novel, then began rewriting, essentially from the ground up.
As is constantly the case for me, one of my struggles is to adhere to the outline. When I outline something, it all sounds great and fantastic, and it’s almost like I’m seeing it through rose-colored glasses. It would be great if what I wrote actually turned out like that. And I tell myself that, this time, it will. This time around, I’ll finally learn how to stick to the outline and be a “good little writer.”
A few things I’ve learned in my rewrite:
- I’ve been surprised by how much of the original novel is worth keeping, and how much of the original characters I actually liked. That’s hugely encouraging to me, as it suggests that my original idea and story wasn’t all crap.
- First drafts require (for me) a lot of attention and intensive rewrite. I am not one of those writers who can pound out a first draft, make a few changes here and there, and then hit publish. Nope. Not gonna happen.
- My deadlines might have to be adjusted. I spoke earlier about planning out my writing and publishing for the next two years (since I have a series I’m writing and other projects in the works, it’s time I start actually publishing those novels). I had planned an ambitious rewriting deadline of March 3rd. Well, that’s tomorrow. And due to life, that’s not going to happen. Also due to the necessity of adding a lot more scenes than I anticipated, rewriting the story from scratch and whatnot, my second draft won’t be completed for a bit longer than necessary. I’m hopeful that my end of March deadline for a completed, partially edited second draft, will still stick. I’ll be posting the draft on Scribophile soon in order to get feedback, and then my attention will have to be diverted through giving critiques in order to get critiques (but I’m not complaining!).
And now, I’m about halfway through this second draft, and the insecurity is setting in full force. This is always the point for me where I feel like this story has been done before, it’s always the same, and why am I wasting my time–who is ever going to read this? But I know that feeling will dissipate with time, and so I push on to the end and persevere.
The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is captained by Alex J. Cavenaugh, and it’s a group of writers who discuss their insecurities and the realities of the writing life.
To sign up, go to insecurewriterssupportgroup.org, and join the link. Then be sure to visit other bloggers and commiserate with and encourage them!