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Have you ever thrown out an MS and rewritten the story from page 1?
Lucy Silag
Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 2:41 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359

Yesterday, Nevena posted a Member Spotlight with Rachel Anne Marks, who's writing and workshopping her YA novel GOLDEN here on Book Country. I loved what Rachel had to say about coming back to the manuscript after spending a year away from it due to health reasons. (What she had to say about this was really interesting and inspiring, check it out if you have a second.) She tossed what she had and rewrote it from page 1.


This is something I actually have a bad habit of doing: starting over again and again and again. I am addicted to how freeing it is! (It does make the writing process incredibly slow if you don't eventually get serious about at least one of these drafts.)


Anyway, I am curious to see if any other writers on BC have done this, and how it felt. Share below!



Timothy Maguire
Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 12:35 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272

Given that I read this while working on the third draft of Crossing The Ice, I'd have to say yes. I've been fighting the opening of that book for a while, on top of re-writing chunks of the plot, so it's not really a huge surprise that I've been redrafting it.

The problem with the first draft was that I'd managed to whack in a unnecessary subplot about trusting some of the characters that I really didn't want and it was so big that replacing it was easier than fixing it. The second draft? That was just too slow.

LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2013 7:52 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

The original of Hands of Ash was chucked out. I wrote in high school, so you could imagine why. I rewrote all 200k words. Yeah, it took forever, but it was worth it.
Ian Nathaniel Cohen
Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013 6:40 PM
I'm thinking about doing that with The King's Champion, a telling of the Arthurian legends from the POV of Sir Gawaine.  Too much of what I have feels stiff, unwieldy, and incompatible with new and better ideas I'm having for the story structure and character arcs.
Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013 9:15 PM
Joined: 9/17/2013
Posts: 104

I wrote a short story once of a bar fight ending in a murder, told from the POV of a witness in the bar. After reading a few comments, I rewrote the story, narrated this time by the killer. Most of the people who read both preferred the latter, so the exercise worked.


Lucy Silag
Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013 10:36 AM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359

I think we often hold onto our drafts for a long time because seeing the word counts helps us to validate the time spent. But I think it's very productive to throw out and start from scratch if it just feels like it's not the right book.


Interesting to know others feel this way, too!



Ben Nemec
Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 12:47 AM
Joined: 1/21/2013
Posts: 47

My current project is a from scratch rewrite of something I started in high school.  The original was deeply flawed on multiple levels and fixing it would have required rewriting about 90% of it anyway, so a complete rewrite was easily the best option.
Posted: Friday, January 3, 2014 2:55 PM
Joined: 1/3/2014
Posts: 3

I'm doing that right now. I realized a lot of things while writing the first draft - story structure stuff, worldbuilding stuff - one of my characters even changed genders half way through. There's nothing to do but rewrite it. The first draft was an important first step, but it was just a first step.
Linnea Ren
Posted: Friday, January 3, 2014 10:38 PM

When I worked as an editor, the rule of thumb is a revise is at least 30% changed. When I revise, I triple that. My friends joke that I change so much that the story goes from draft one to draft three. I literally change every single word. I, in a way, count that as throwing out a MS and rewriting the story from page one.

I have, however, done the whole thing. With Childhood, the novel I've been working on since I was eleven. I've restarted it over fifty times, changing the story, the characters, everything. I've never seen it as bad. Sometimes a story just doesn't want to be written. Forcing it never got me anywhere, so I just kind of let those stories go until they want work. 


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