This morning, a wonderful thing happened and, like most wonderful things, I’m pretty sure it’s also a bat shit crazy. You see, I was trying to think of something to write about in this blog today, since I’ve already done a writer’s quote, I have no books finished, and it’s still not Friday (WHY NOT??). So I considered character motivation. What pulls your characters to pursue the actions they embark on in your book or story? Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been doing a lot of hemming and hawing and explaining and setting up the perfect situation for a series of events to set into motion, and it was bothering me, because it feels unnatural, it feels forced, and having three pages of the characters explaining and debating with each other about their actions, to me, does not make for good reading.
But that’s what I have going on with Serpent in a Cage right now. I’ve been telling myself that it’s okay, I can go back and smooth it out later, but I realized that I’m just really not fond of how the events fall into place, either in this new draft or the old draft.
So I think to myself, “Why don’t I just rewrite it from scratch?”
Over two hundred pages in the first draft. 169 handwritten pages in the second draft (albeit small pages from my favorite portable notebooks). And now I want to scrap the whole thing and completely rewrite it?
Yes, yes, YES!
I know the changes I made for the second draft, cutting out perspectives and cutting out characters, significantly helped streamline the book and make it better, but I think I can take it a step further, streamline the whole thing, get all the characters that I had to cut (except maybe one, I’m starting to think she’s pretty much useless in this cycle of plots) back into the game in a more significant way, and it makes the story much more believable, without all the convoluted twists and turns that has me so irritated right now. While the main plot (“We’ve got no cash! Let’s take this job to save this chick so we can get out of this crappy desert place!”) stays the same, the details are changing, the good guys are actually going to be working with the bad guys which could make for a great dynamic that matches the over-arching theme of the Aryneth books (good and evil are not separate, but inexorably intertwined) and gets the end game (captive is rescued and all is well) accomplished as well, though in a much more streamlined manner. It will make the story itself fairly simple and straightforward, which means I can have more fun with making the characters and their motivations exceptional.
I am, in other words, completely stoked about this new approach. It feels like a crime to just completely ditch over three years of work and rework it entirely, but it just hasn’t been working. I’m also not going to jump into this, all guns ablazing. I’m going to put a pause on the current production of Serpent in a Cage, or maybe stab at it a little to cannibalize later (I should really do a post on cannibalizing my writing…), and take the next few days to actually outline (yes, outline) this new plot before I even begin to think about writing those first words. I have a lot of confidence in this new take on the book, though. I know the changes I made last year did wonders for getting the project going again and improving it. I have a feeling that this change is going to do the same, but tenfold.
What do you think? Have you ever completely reworked a project so far into it?? Do you think it’s mad to do so, or that it’s simply a good idea that, if something isn’t working, instead of fighting through to the finish, embrace a new approach? I’m interested to hear any other experiences anyone else has had in a project that just seems to want to keep changing itself. How long did it take until you finally “had it”? Is this common for you? Any advice to share? Let’s hear it! And then I’m going to go on over here and start outlining.