In the past few days, I completely ripped apart the beginning of my novel.
I slashed away 1,700 words. I flung far-apart settings together and threw out some unsuspecting characters. I obliterated conversations from existence, and I even rejected that lovely, kind-of-symbolic bit that was going to echo throughout the series.
And the beginning of my novel is so much better for it.
You may have heard me mention my strategy for this rewrite is to NOT LOOK at the rough draft, ever, at all. You may have heard me complaining that despite this, the rough draft is still creeping in at times.
That was my problem with this beginning; the events were the same as they’d always been. It dragged (I need time to set up the characters!), there wasn’t enough tension (But the writing is so pretty here…), and by the time the inciting incident happened, my reader probably would have been bored.
I knew this. But for a long time I tried to squeak along, still using it, because it was the picture I’d always had in my head, and because I thought it looked cool the way I imagined it, and because I wanted it, despite the fact that it didn’t make sense in places. I wanted it. So I left it.
And then I read this post by Donald Maass at Writer Unboxed.
“Reverses, curves, twists, shocks…instead of saving them, start with them. Distrust your first ideas. Push toward what is unexpected and counter-intuitive.”
Read that post, guys.
Three minutes after I finished it, I’d rethought my beginning. I’d decided that instead of luring my main character to the Inciting Incident, I would drop the incident right into the middle of his school.
Now I’m wondering how I ever had it any other way.
I’m also guiltily prodding at the rest of my novel, which now seems inadequate in comparison…
But those are struggles for another blog post. :)
What writing breakthroughs have you had recently? What blog posts or books have really made you think about your novel? What sorely needed changes have you made, and which changes are you avoiding?