So I’ve been rewriting my first-to-publish manuscript (it wasn’t the first I’d ever written, but the first with the goal to publish), and it’s changed a lot since that first outline I made twelve years ago (yep – you read that correctly!). Seriously feels like forever ago…I had saved files on floppy discs!
It went from being a story written by someone (*raises hand*) who knew nothing of the publishing world – not categories, genre, word count, and the writing aspect? Oh, man – I thought every dialogue needed the “said” at the end, and that the more adverbs, the better (*shudders*). So when I did finish it, I researched a little (*whispers* barely researched since I was convinced it was fantastic and I wouldn’t need to look into all this – someone woul love to publish it, right?…..right??) and decided it fell in the YA category because my MC was 17 years old – however, I didn’t read YA (don’t really care for it), so it didn’t actually fall in that category. Also…it had 120K words and ended on a massive cliffhanger. There weren’t clear stakes – just action and stories piled on stories, without the MC having achieved anything by the end of that book. So after receiving over 200 rejections (not to mention, my query was atrocious – seriously…I found it not long ago and actually wondered what the hell I was thinking), so I put it aside, promising I’d get back to it one day, then moved on.
Now, after completing another manuscript, which I’m querying at the moment, then finishing another one almost right after (has gone through beta readers, and some editing, though it’s currently being looked at again because I need to cut out at least 15K), I decided I’d finally go back to that first story that means so much to me (*cue the faraway look in my eyes as I stare out a window, thinking of my past*).
Here’s where things get a little strange – well, you can imagine that twelve years of outlining, writing scenes here and there (all during which I had no clue about anything publishing-wise *inserts “you know nothing Jon Snow” quote here*), the story changed throughout time, and after I’d had someone beta read the manuscript when I had been querying it, a lot ended up going back and forth, different direction, etc. Also, while I had been querying, I’d finished writing the first draft of the 2nd manuscript in this series…so basically, I now have so many different scenes, fulls, different versions all over the place that it became almost overwhelming. And this is where I made my biggest mistake as I’ve been rewriting it the past few weeks: I was following the latest manuscript’s story, as in, I’d press enter a few times, read what was below, and just rewrite in more of what I feel is my voice as a writer now. Now, I realize after almost 30K has been rewritten that it just can’t work like this. With this story, because it was written so long ago, I need to start from scratch – a blank page. Yes, I can still follow parts of my original outline – the story is still basically the same, but now that I’ve grown as a writer, I can’t follow what I had set out exactly as it was back then – I’d just end up with the same problematic manuscript.
So I’ve decided to scrap everything I’ve written up until now, and start with a blank page – I’m definitely keeping the core of the original story, but I’ll be redeveloping it, adding to it, making stakes clear, and basically using everything I’ve learned about writing and publishing so far. I’m actually not disappointed about starting over again (though, would have been nice before I reached 30K the other night lol) – I want this story to be written in a way that’s perfect in my eyes, and I think this story deserves that.
So what about you? Have you rewritten a story you;v always held dear? Did you start from a blank page, or from where you left off? How difficult/easy did you find it to be?