The part of me that felt I was trapped in revision paralysis was all for “let’s build a bonfire / I’ll get the matches.” The part of me that never stopped reading a book partway through (until Madame Bovary), was more “quitter, quitter, quitter.”
A conundrum, indeed.
Fortunately, I think I’ve come up with a solution that
pleases no one combines the two options. I’m taking one of my three manuscripts and starting it all over from scratch.
Sounds like fun, right? No? Well, it was Jilly’s idea.
When I raised this issue in my recent Sunk Cost Fallacy post, Jilly commented that she had changed so much as a writer since she’d written her earlier stories that she’d probably start with a blank slate if she ever went back to them.
That made a lot of sense to me. My writing style and skills have changed quite a bit since the McDaniel program where my stories in question originated. Continuing to attempt to edit them as they are feels a lot like trying to cover leaks in a boat with duct tape. Hardly likely to succeed.
Starting from “scratch” gives me the chance to (fingers-crossed) avoid some of the writing dead-ends that I continually found myself in. I also know the characters a lot better than I did at the beginning when they were just generic placeholders that I hadn’t even named yet.
I’m planning to read through the story notes I made along the way, pull out the collage and outline I put together at some point, and try to re-frame the big idea for the story.
How do you start a new story (or a new take on an old story)?
Do you start with a general idea of what the major conflict is, or do you just start writing with no idea of what is going to happen until you’ve got the words on the page?
Do you block out the major acts and turning points so you have a general idea of what needs to happen when and how the pieces will fit together, or does that kind of pre-work get in the way?
Or does your process depend on the story?
Realizing that everyone’s writing process is their own, what suggestions do you have to help someone get a new story successfully off the ground?