Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thinking Smaller

By Nichole Giles

This summer I dumped a 70,000 word novel and started over. I got about 15,000 words in again, and decided to—once again—dump it and start over. Why would I do such a thing and what purpose will it serve?

Both times, I got hung up on the plot. I simply let it get away from me. The truth is I was thinking way, way too big. Not every main character has to save the universe. Sometimes, story can be about just one person, or two. Or a family, or a town. It doesn’t always have to be about the whole world. Ya know?

So. I dumped my months-worth of hard work, simplified by cutting out unnecessary plot lines, and started over, this time, on a much smaller scale. And it’s okay. My plot and characters will thank me for it in the long run, because this time, I’ll be able to finish telling their story, and I’ll do it right.

Have you ever done something like this? And what was bigger, the feeling of dread or the feeling of excitement?

8 comments:

LeishaMaw said...

Yup, been there. Dread loomed large at first, then the excitement pummeled the dread into the background where it sulked for a few days then died. I love it when excitement wins.

Jessica said...

I did this too. My novel was at 50,000 words, and I thought it was perfect. I set it aside for a while to let it rest so that when the next time I looked at it I'd see it with fresh eyes. Boy did I ever. Everything was wrong, and one of my minor characters was begging for a lead role. So I scrapped the whole thing and started from the beginning. And you know what? The finished product is leaps and bounds better than the first one.
I remember feeling a little frustrated about it at first, but then the frustration ebbed and the excitement began. The new story almost told itself. It only took me a month to pound out a whole novel (which ended up being substantially longer than the first one). So now I trust my gut... it's so smart. :)
documentingimagination.blogspot.com

Jolene said...

I have never done this. I would imagine it to be a mix of both dread and excitement. You get to stay in the same world and re-tell a story, that sounds cool. Setting aside all that work? That sound really hard.

Carolyn V. said...

That's why I started outlining and make myself write to the finish. It just about kills me. =)

Steve said...

After I finished my first manuscript I was very pleased and thought I had written a masterpiece. After being asked by my publisher to shorten it a bit, I ended up cutting it by 30% but didn't lose any of the good stuff. The story flow was better and the entire mansucript was tighter. The chopping block is my friend.

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks for the encouraging words, everyone. It helps to know this is normal. Not that I didn't already, but you know. Still.

Steve, I love the chopping block analogy. Especially since I watch the food network, and Chopped is one of my favorite shows. I'm going to have to use that sometime!

Evelyn Campbell Curtis said...

I have not yet experienced dropping the whole manuscript. But here I am coming to the close of my novel. I hadn't looked at it in a month or so due to being sick... I opened the file of the last chapter, and I found so much to change. We shall see. My goal is to finish, then edit. Who knows, I may just rewrite... I have rewritten the first 4 chapters about 5 times... now that is frustrating. :)

kbrebes said...

You are a B R A V E woman! I'm sure this is gonna turn out GREAT! I hope I have your courage when the day comes for me--I hate to even think of it coming!