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Starting Over… April 7, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Misc, Novel, On Writing, Study.
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I had another extremely productive meeting with my supervisor last night, but in a nutshell — I probably need to start over with my novel.  If I was impressed last time, I was even more impressed this time.  Immediately, my supervisor pointed out that what I had written was not what I had planned to write.

In fact, it was the opposite of what I wanted to write.  My supervisor was 100% right.  After I had completed the first chapter, I looked at it and thought, this is not a bad story, but not particularly good either.  However, there was something that didn’t feel right. I didn’t realise it until it was pointed out to me, but I had written exactly what I said I didn’t want to do.  I said I didn’t want to write a coming of age story but what I had written was an intro to a coming of age story!  The thing is, my supervisor said if I wanted to change it into a coming of age story, this would have been an excellent start.  But I don’t care.  I’d rather write a crap version of what I intended as opposed to a great version of what I didn’t.

Another thing that was pointed out was that I seemed to suffer from an inability to separate my scenes.  I was writing it as a running narrative — this happened and then that happened and I saw this and I thought that.  There was never a break in the action.

A third problem was my descriptions.  As my supervisor pointed out, when you manage to come up with some brilliant descriptions, descriptions that capture the essence of a person or thing perfectly, your less impressive, more generic descriptions get exposed and become huge eye sores.  That’s three of three.  Hit the nail on the head every time!

If I might come across as a little down after that, I’m not.  I’m annoyed that I’ll have to spend a lot of time and effort, but I’m glad I didn’t write more before discovering that I was on the wrong track.  As my supervisor said, sometimes you have to write what you don’t want before you can figure out what you do want.

That said, it’s always easier said than done.  There’s no guarantee that the next time I sit down to write I’ll get what I want.  So what do I do?  My supervisor suggests that I just try.  If it’s not there, try a different approach, a different angle.  Eventually I’ll get it right.  Read more of the type of writing and voice I want to achieve.  It might turn out that what I end up writing is better than what I intended to write.

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Comments»

1. uioae - April 7, 2011

Can you post an excerpt?

2. Nate - April 8, 2011

Hello old friend. How’s the land down under these days? Hope things are good.
So I’m catching up with you and…..
This happened to me with two different manuscripts. I just couldn’t get my head around what or how I wanted the story to unfold or how to tell it, etc. On one, I solved the issue by starting at a completely different point on the the timeline and that open up the story to what I was aiming for.
The other, I try over and over and it just wasn’t it. and then, I decided to try and tell the story from the point of view of one of the characters and let him be the narrator instead of writing on the third person and boom! it was like a door had been open and I could finally move forward in the direction I wanted.
Don’t know if that may help, but if anything, just play around with it, the voice, the format, etc and see if a different approach can deliver you where you want to be and take it from there.

pacejmiller - April 8, 2011

Mate! Nate! Where have you been all this time? I seriously thought something horrible had happened to you. Your blog hasn’t even been updated for a month!

Things are good. I just started typing yesterday — didn’t think about it too much — just sat down and went at it. Didn’t stop to look back at what I had typed and just let it all flow out. In a little over an hour I had 1600 words, and amazingly, it wasn’t too bad. Very raw and rough around the edges but it was much closer to the type of style and voice I wanted than what I did previously. Just had another mad typing session just then and I’m now over 3100 words. Freaking amazing.


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