Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Starting from Scratch

Since I am on the subject of Tiffany, let me tell you one of the things I most admire about her as a writer. Tiffany is able to throw out a draft and start completely fresh. She can change the characters, setting, and format so that you can barely recognize it as the same story.

I can't do that. I get locked in. I can switch from prose to rhyme. Or change a character from a bear to a moose.

But I am not able to totally begin anew.

I can't clear my mind. The old version gets stuck in my head like a bad song. It just replays itself over and over, preventing me from finding a new melody.

Are you able to throw out a draft and really start from scratch?

23 comments:

Steve Brezenoff said...

I have the same problem. My current WIP is a total mess and I refuse to leave destroy scenes and passages and characters I adore. It's a concern.

Hopefully after some time away I'll be able to kill those darlings.

Yat-Yee said...

I haven't had to do that yet, and I don't think I could do it, or at least it would be very hard. I've thrown away chapters and scenes and even doing that has been painful. But it's good to hear about someone who can see the value of something and just do it, no matter how difficult.

Crystal said...

Oh, noooooo, Corey, I don't think I could ever do that, either. Like you, the old version would still be in my head! I would probably retain at least a couple of scenes and/or characters.

It really takes a lot of bravery to start completely anew. But I guess it can definitely be done!

storyqueen said...

Yep. I don't want to say that I do it all the time....but......

(It works for me since I am not plagued by thoughts of the old versions so much. I hardly remember what I write from one day to the next!)

That's what happens, friends, when you are trying to do too much. You don't remember anything you do!

On the positive side: You can act as your own beta reader!

On the negative side: You end up losing lost of really good stuff.


Go ahead, Corey, I dare you! Try it! (Just don't completely delete the old version just yet.)

Shelley

P.S. I emailed you.

Amy Tate said...

Yes and no. My current WIP started one way, and is going another. I suppose that's one reason why I don't like being locked into an outline. I like to "sketch" a story as I go. But like you, when really love a story line, and it's crystal clear in my head, it's difficult to move things around. This comment reads like I'm speaking out of both sides of my mouth! I don't know if that makes sense or not.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I havent thrown all of it out. But I did make A LOT of changes. :) No moose or bears though.

beth said...

I've never started over. Ever. But I'm considering it. I've got this project I love, already written, but can't seem to properly revise. I think I might take the characters out and rewrite the whole thing. Been playing with that idea for awhile.

T. Anne said...

Perhaps not from scratch but I do like to reorganize. Delete can be my favorite button. ;)

Donna M. McDine said...

Hmmmm...start over completely, I don't know if I can do that. Maybe I'll feel different once I begin the first round of edits on my current W-I-P. Don't even want to think about it.

Regards,
Donna

MG Higgins said...

I'm in the process of doing that right now. It's a little depressing but exciting because I know the newer version will be an improvement. And the original draft isn't a total waste--there are some good scenes I can keep.

Jody Hedlund said...

I think it's incredibly hard to start over! I tried on one MS and found that it was bogging me down looking through my old MS as I typed the new.

Lis Garrett said...

If the characters and plot are in my head, they're there for a reason. Their story has to be told, I think. What will happen, though, is new characters will seep into my brain and start 'talking' to me. At that point, I have to begin outlining my thoughts for what will eventually be the new book. But I generally stick with a story until all the kinks are worked out.

Kimberly said...

Yes, but it depends on what I am writing. If it's a chapter to a book I'm working on, yes. But if it's a children's book, no. If it's an essay, yes. But each time I start from scratch I need to first distance myself from the first draft for several weeks and during that time I read a lot to get a lot of ideas of who to approach a topic.

Lazy Writer said...

I can't start over either. Like you said, the old just keeps creeping in.

tiffany said...

hi corey!

i totally appreciate the compliment that you are tossing my way, and i definitely am not the best compliment "accepter"....BUT isn't: "changing the characters, setting and format" just writing a NEW story? HA!

xo
t

Corey Schwartz said...

Ha! Well, Tiffany, some might say that, but you held onto your special friendship angle. (I wont' give it away, but you know what I am talking about:)

tiffany said...

Yeah. I know what you mean. There is something very liberating and refreshing about throwing the whole thing away (when you've exhausted all possible methods of making it work)....and then rebuilding from scratch! Try it with something that has been driving you nuts.

xo,
t

Jennifer Major said...

I can't take the same idea and revamp it. I can put it aside and start on a new idea and that's just about the time the old one starts bugging me again.

Oh, the joys of writing! I guess these differences make us unique as writers.

Karen said...

I've done the "start from scratch" thing a few times, but in my mind, it's just a brand new story at that point. I think of the first story as the "inspiration", not the "original".

Kelly H-Y said...

I have a really tough time doing that ... I feel like I'm going to lose something about it that I was supposed to keep!

Casey McCormick said...

The rewrite I just dug back into (for the gazillionth time) is entirely different than the first draft. All that's staying is the original concept/hook and the names of the main characters.

Which is why I feel sick about it most days. LOL.

Solvang Sherrie said...

No. I have issues with letting go...

hytime said...

I have no trouble whatsoever starting fresh and new ...
no, wait ...

Re: Starting from Scratch, I think it's difficult for everyone, however ... no, this isn't right ...

Regarding Starting from Scratch, the best way to keep old story parts from seeping thru is to try to develop selective amnesia. A blow to the head may accomplish... this isn't right, either. will get back to you.