Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tipping it upside down

I'm all a-flutter today. There are big changes underway in my novel- again. For the second time in six months, for the fifth time in four years, I'm preparing to rip apart every single thing I've written, and take a radical turn in a different direction.

I envy people who sit down to write a novel, and just... get it done. They figure out where they're going as they write, and at the end of it they've got a complete story.

This just doesn't happen for me. I write until I get to the end, and then I sit back and feel like something's still missing. I go digging until I figure out what it is. It's never small. And then I have to reconsider everything.

I have no problem doing this. I'm unafraid to discard tens of thousands of words and start again. Nothing I write is wasted- even if it all changes, I've learned something from putting those words on paper. I've gotten to know my characters better, my own style and voice, and I've learned what doesn't work.

I have to admit, though, that this willingness to change everything has me slightly afraid that it's just one complicated mental block to finishing the novel. Every time I get close to the end- bam, I ditch a heap of words and start over. Is it really necessary? Or am I just unable to let go and settle for "good enough"?

I don't get that feeling from this latest change. For possibly the first time ever, the options that have come up from all my reworking feel exactly right. They're complicated, devastating, terrifying emotional stakes- but this book is going to be on fire from the first page to the last. The previous iterations were great, but nothing like this. This is it. This is what I've been working towards for the last decade.

Could I have reached this point ten years ago? No way. Could I have managed to work out all these new facets of the story after the first time I changed it all, without going through the other three complete revisions? No, definitely not. Each revision has been a stepping stone and a learning stage.

For the first time, I really feel like all those revisions have been worth something big. Each one of them is contained in this revision- in spirit, at least- and it's not a way of stalling the end. It's a way of making this story the best it can possibly be.

The changes? I don't think I want to explain them all just yet :) But suffice to say, someone else who died in the original version is going to live in this one; and the biggest change of all is to the relationship central to the story.

If you thought I'd broken your heart before, wait til you see what I've got up my sleeve next...


  1. I'm scared and worried and hopeful and excited all at the same time! Do you mean she - no, I won't try to guess... Can't wait to find out though :-)
    Also, I just realised - if letting people live raises the stakes and rips out the reader's heart more than death, well then... maybe I will find out that Baha hasn't died after all...

  2. You.Are.A.Tease.


    (I'm thrilled that you've made some novel-altering discoveries! As much as I love your story, I have complete faith that you've just made it even better.I can't wait to see where you're going with it.)


  3. So, it's 'hold onto your hat' time--again? I can't wait, but I know the feeling. My wip is in the same process, only I've not gotten anywhere near the end. How many revisions does this make for you? I'm trying to predict how long mine will take. : )