Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Picking up old work.

This is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a great group of supportive writers, helping one another through our writing ups-and-downs.

There is also a great Facebook Community for more daily connection!  More posts from the group are tagged on Twitter at #IWSG.

March: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

March’s question prompt once again fits perfectly with what I’ve been reflecting on lately.  You see, the story I’m working on right now is just that, a really old story that I pulled out and began to rework. Through all the revisions and writing over the past few years I haven’t actually done the truly hard work of reworking things that need to be fixed.  For instance, the beginning.

When I originally wrote this story it was a NaNo novel – so the first three pages are a story being told. When I first wrote this it had been the story, but I reached a point where I decided that I wanted to turn into a piece of the story and thus it became a moment of storytelling within the novel.

However, that meant that you spent the first three pages getting into one story, only to be yanked out and dropped into something else. And, while the story being told is relevant to the larger story, the relevance isn’t immediately apparent. Basically, I knew in the back of my head that I had to change that beginning, but I never could quite bring myself to do so.  I just loved the way it was written too much to cut it.

Not to mention the ongoing question that kept nibbling away at me. What if it really is the best piece of writing in the novel? What if it’s really important to show this whole story – if I cut it will it destroy what I’m setting up?  This concern expanded beyond the initial storytelling segment. The whole first chapter bounced between point-of-view without a care in the world. From one person’s thoughts to another — it’s told in third person so it’s pretty easy for me to slip and bounce about. Some of the things that came from that were beautiful, they made me smile and I really loved them… but it was awkward to read and hard to follow.

So, finally, I’ve revised. I’ve had enough distance (and heaven knows enough anxiety and uncertainty) about what I was going to do with those segments that I was able to look at them more objectively, take into account those things that I’d written and changed as the story progressed, and take the steps to make the changes that need to be made.

I don’t know if the changes are really the right ones. And I continue to face stalls as I let life derail me from my editing. But, slowly, I am taking steps to another draft.

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2 thoughts on “Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Picking up old work.”

  1. If I’m ever in doubt about the changes I’m considering making, I work on a copy and keep the original version. Knowing that if I don’t like the result I can just delete it and go back to what I started with allows me to be much braver.

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    1. Yeah.. I have this frustrating situation that I can’t find the original completed draft! I have a hard copy that I’m working from, and so having to re-type EVERYTHING… which has actually been helpful in the editing end of things. 🙂

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