A Daunting Task Ahead #IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of April, and as with every first Wednesday, it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

I got feedback on Isto last week. On Tuesday, I had a sit-down with a beta reader who’s been with me since the first terrible draft of Thanmir War. She went over her notes for Isto, including a bit about how the first half of my main character’s chapters didn’t seem as important to the plot as the other POVs. It didn’t surprise me. I’d known he wouldn’t have as much of an impact in this book 5 1/2 years ago.

Then Wednesday’s critique group came and my fellow writers dove into the “Final Battle”. As they read my big fight scene, the feedback was my climax was anti-climatic. They wanted more chaos, more tension, more people getting hurt/dying. This isn’t the first time they’ve said this about one of my fight scenes. Apparently, I don’t put my characters in enough danger. But I trust my critique group, and I’d rewritten that last scene and eventually earned a thumbs-up for my efforts. As my brain mulled over how to improve my final battle, visions of monsters attacking my main character formed in my head. Yeah, I thought. I could do this just like I did last time.

Then I came to a terrible realization.

When I’d rewritten the previous fight scene, I’d changed the rules. To add that danger and tension my critique group wanted, I had to make my main character a target that he wasn’t before. What does this mean?

To avoid plot holes, I have to rewrite the first half of my main character’s chapters.

Considering my beta reader said those chapters felt less important to the plot, maybe doing the rewrite will help that. Still, it’s a major undertaking and this book has already been in the works for six flippin’ years. *sigh*

Perhaps you can see the cause of my insecurity this month?

I don’t have any dreams of becoming a full-time author (I’m a perfectly happy programmer). This series is the only thing I aspire to write. Still, I would like to finish it before I die of old age.

IWSG Question of the Month – If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be?

I don’t trust wishes. I’ve read too many stories where things backfire and go horribly wrong. Therefore, I wouldn’t use a wish, because next thing I know, I could be trapped inside my story and I sure as heck don’t want to face the monsters in there! Nor would I want to face my characters because they’d probably figure out that I’m the one who put them through all the crap. So no wishes for this squirrel.

Have you had to face major rewrites for the third time on a story? How many times are you willing to rewrite in order to get a story right? Do you have a story you’ve refused to give up on?

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Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

38 thoughts on “A Daunting Task Ahead #IWSG

  1. Ha! You have the most unique perspectives on things!

    I’ve come to appreciate the value of companion novels over true sequels. Staying true to your cannon in a full-length novel is hard enough without adding ‘epic’ genre length and keeping up with a series of sequels. Hang in there!

  2. I love your answer to the question!

    I’m working right now on a story/novella I refuse to give up on. As long as it doesn’t give up on me, we’re good to go. πŸ™‚

  3. Best answer to this month’s question! πŸ˜‚

    Yup, I’m going through a major rewrite of the something now (the book you beta’d–finally figured out how to start [I hope πŸ˜‰]).

  4. I have had so many times where a changed rippled throughout the novel. I am with you on the frustration. Without having read the battle scene, they always seem better with more chaos, tension, people getting hurt/dying. Good luck!

  5. You make an excellent point about wishes.

  6. Re-writes are the bane of my existence. I have a bunch right now hovering over my head that I’ve been dragging my feet on going back to do. I’m smack dab in the middle of the book and keep changing my mind which way I’m going to go, but depending on which I choose will affect what those rewrites will be. So I can’t re-write anything until I make a decision. So I totally get where you’re coming from.

    But hey, every edit and revision makes things better, so great job moving in the right direction! Sounds like you’re making great progress!

  7. At least you’re hanging in there. I have stories with so many flaws, they’re collecting dust. I go back and tinker with them every few years and walk away. Maybe this summer I’ll pull the files back up…

  8. Jennifer Lee Hawes

    I have several stories I won’t give up on. Someday it will happen!

  9. Trapped in your own story sounds bad.
    Sorry revising one scene led to a whole lot more. It’s like doing a house project. One thing leads to another…

  10. I’ve rewritten some parts of my story so many times they are practically unrecognizable from the originals, and sometimes it’s been because I changed something later on in the book that required a rewrite of an earlier chapter, so I can relate.

    The number of times my critique group has told me I was letting off my character too easily is almost comical. I guess I have a hard time making things difficult for my character too.

    And again I apologize for taking so long to beta read Isto. I’m generally a much faster reader than that.

  11. Don’t feel bad. I was at a conference and the keynote speaker–an author, of course–said she was on her thirty-fifth draft. She just couldn’t get it to work, but she was determined.

  12. Trapped in your own story? Sounds like a nightmare…
    C.Lee’s comment about an author writing her thirty-fifth draft makes me wonder how many years she took to get through those drafts…
    Perseverance will pay off!
    Happy IWSG Day!

  13. I think you’re in an ideal spot with a job you like and a story you want to write. Hopefully your revisions will fix all the holes that you’re worried about in your story.

  14. Anna

    Way to step and kick butt. Seeing the upside is what will make this book great. πŸ™‚

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    • Anna

      * step up

  15. Oh man! I feel your pain! I have a book just like it and I have one revision left to make on it … if … if I haven’t given up on it. Sigh. I did learn to write with it so that’s a double hands yay. I wish you luck Loni πŸ™‚

  16. LOL, trapped inside your own story now there is a thought. I admit I have some characters I would like hanging with but you made some good point about why not.

    Best of luck with the rewrites. I know in the end despite the time its gonna be a great story.

    Happy IWSG!

  17. Ha! I like your response about wishes! I don’t think anyone thought of it that way.
    I feel your pain on a book taking forever, but at least it seems like you’ve solved two problems at once this way!

  18. I have done major rewrites on novels and multiple editing changes. Best wishes on all the work.

  19. Remember, it gets better every time you write it. And rewrite it.

  20. Only the third time?

    I like to think that I’ll get back to my first novel. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rewritten the thing. It’s trunked at the moment because my critique group let me know there wasn’t enough tension in it. So, I have to start it all over. Again.

    Someday.

    I’m sure your novel will fully come together at some point. And when it does, it’ll surprise you. In a good way.

  21. NO, getting trapped in my own story wouldn’t work for me either. I’m too much of a coward to go adventuring, as my heroes do.

  22. Yes, I know exactly how you feel about wanting to finish the book before you die of old age! I’m into my third year on the first flipp’n draft. But I WILL finish it this year. Lord knows how long the rewrites will take.

    And you are spot on about wishes. Everything we need to know, we learned from The Monkey’s Paw.

  23. However, if you get trapped in your novel-world then you know the rules better than the monsters, fearless Loni. Take up you sword/pen.

  24. Very wise of you on the wishes front.
    I sooo feel for you on the re-writes side of things. How many times have I thought I’d nailed something only to be told I’d barely started (bangs head on desk and moans in pain). But that’s why feedback is so important – good luck – you can do this.

  25. I think I rewrote my second novel at least 20 times over several years. I could probably rewrite it another 20 and still find things to tweak. It got to a point where I was ready to query because I had taken it as far as I reasonably could even though I fully expected to continue working on it given suggestions from agent and/or editor. But, as we all know, getting an agent is a much harder task that rewriting a book 20 times.

  26. Christine Rains

    You’re the clever one with the wishes. Is it weird I have every detail clear and precise worked out in my head for three wishes if I ever find a genie?

  27. Some stories just take longer to figure out. Best of luck with it!

  28. You’ve got this! There’s an end in sight.

    I have a story that I can’t seem to get it to come out quite the way I want and it keeps getting shelved while I work on other stuff, but I keep poking at it. I wrote the first draft about… 13-15 years ago. As deep as I am in my main work, I can’t give up on it.

  29. Wow, I don’t trust wishes either! Good point.

    Plot holes blow. That sucks you had to rewrite the beginning sections after making a change later in the story. Keep trucking!

  30. RR

    You are doing great by hanging in there. The way is to step back and let it percolate some then go back to it with new perspective.

  31. like to read your post about “wishes”

  32. I don’t think there’s any time limit on drafting. If it takes 10+ years to get it right then so be it, although hopefully this revision is a turning point for you. Good luck!

  33. Sounds like you might need that wish for the fight scene.

    I have absolutely had to rewrite stories over and over again. See if you can beat this: 52 times over a period of 10 years!

  34. Ouch! But you’re probably right, it will probably help the book! I had to rewrite huge chunks of my third book two weeks before publication because initially there wasn’t really an overarcing villain – (books three and four were originally one book that got split for length and the villain was in the second half) so book three was mostly a lead up and my brother said it was incredibly boring and needed a bad guy. I had to go back over the whole thing and work him in stalking them, and then rewrite the last couple of chapters completely. But, he was right. It needed it.

  35. I know critique groups are important (and vital!) but it still sucks and can hurt, even when you know it’s constructive and there to help. I’m sorry. But maybe re-writing those first chapters will totally help the overall story? It’ll definitely take some work, but it’ll be worth it! Besides, you’re a happy programmer. I have no doubt that you will finish this series before you die. No doubt πŸ˜‰

  36. Quite a few of my older books were rewritten too many times to count. And I hate rewriting with a passion.

    Oh well. It was worth it…I hope.

  37. Oh my goodness. Great insight. It’s just a part of the process that can’t be hurried, but you are on your way. Claim it and go.

    thanks for visiting me on Wed.
    Teresa

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