Saturday, March 29, 2008


So I told you last time I had completed 20k words of my mg novel.  I showed it to my new critique group (two wonderful women and extraordinary writers) to read from the beginning for the first time.  They liked my story a lot, and gave me some insightful feedback that really made sense to me.  Part of their suggestions involved tightening up the timeline and changing (somewhat) the personality of one of the main characters.  In other words, there were some major revisions to be done.  So I have a dilemma.  Do I push on and complete the last 10k words or so to finish the rough draft using a timeline and character that I know will be changed significantly, or do I stop moving ahead and start revising what I've got so far?  This roadblock had me stuck, not writing anything, for days.  What would you suggest in this situation, and have you ever been in this situation yourself?


PJ Hoover said...

Put a comment in the sidebar and keep on writing!
OK, in fairness, I guess this would depend on the extent of the changes. But revision is fun, and once you finish this first draft, this of all the great things you'll have to revise.
In my current WIP, I have to go back and remove some characters and change stuff to add new deadlines (to create more of a sense of urgency).

david elzey said...

This is a tough call. Personally I find that if I start revising before I'm finished I never seem to reach the end because I wind up developing things that will cause me to go back and revise again.

That said, I got 60+ pages in on my middle grade novel and it felt wrong. My advisor pointed out the problem (conflict? what conflict? the main character needs conflict?) and has sent me directly to GO, do not collect $200.

For me there is always value in finishing first because you can see the overall shape. But if continuing from where you're at is going to leave with a larger mess than if you went back and corrected things now, then it isn't worth the unnecessary effort.

BTW, I, too, had a timing problem and in the course of the revision (painful) my 60 pages are now just under 20. It wasn't overwriting -- some of what was excised will probably show up in later chapters -- but now the story has a nice clip and is easier to follow.

Oh, yeah, there's some conflict in it for the MC as well.

Dawn Buthorn said...

PJ-Thanks for stopping by! What you suggested is exactly what I ended up doing. I decided to plow ahead because if I didn't I was afraid I'd never finish. I don't really know how much the revisions (or lack thereof) will affect the last third of the book, but I needed to see what happened to the characters based on the beginning I already have. Then I'll go back and rip it all apart. But that's ok, because I really enjoy revising-I love picking apart each word and deciding if it's exactly what I wanted to say.

David-Glad you came! Who is your advisor this semester? As I told PJ, I decided to keep going and finish this draft before going back and revising. I know I'll need to revise the whole thing many more times anyway, so I may as well finish before I start fixing. Btw, OUCH-60 pages down to 20! I hate that! I'm so obsessive/excited about my word count that it would really hurt to cut it down that much-but of course that's what we have to do. Never love your words too much.

david elzey said...

Dawn, I'm working with David Gifaldi this semester. He's great, everyone will tell you as much, and I can give you all the details in July when we meet.

Just to be clear: I love all my words as well, and I have all my different version in separate electronic files so I can see what was cut and maybe reuse/recycle sentences, ideas, &c. Sure, it's down to those 20 pages, but I still have the 60 page version and, as I said, I'll probably migrate much of it to other parts of the MS.

Sheri said...

I was in this situation once before too, actually with the novel I am still working on. I think it depends on how far in your are. In your case, you are in far and so you might as well finish. When I made my changes I was only on chapter 3, so I just started from scratch and for me, at that point, it was the right thing to do. At this point, I am on page 60, so when I get revision ideas, I just jot them down in my ever-growing notebook.

Janet Fox said...

Hey Dawn! I love your blog - very personal and intimate. I don't know what to tell you about your current dilemma - I have to stop myself from re-polishing the first 10 pages every time I add something. I think I'd press on and finish the novel and then go back to the beginning. So much more could change.

Dawn Buthorn said...

Hi Janet! Thanks for visiting! I've been working on this novel for about 6 months now, and I know that's not long in the grand scheme of things. But it is the longest thing I've ever written, AND I love the story and the characters, AND it's a serious topic, so I want to make sure I do it right. I ended up plowing ahead and continuing on the same path I'd started on. I know I'll have to go back and revise, and that may (will) end up changing what I'm writing now, but I couldn't stop where I was to revise or I'd never finish it. I'm at page 101-probably more like 110 or so when I format it properly-and I have about 15-20 pages left. It's all very exciting. Of course I am still way behind where you are. You must be so excited about your book. You said it's coming out in June or July?