Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

Do you ever think you'll come back to your first book, or is it done?

I have a rule...or at least I do now that I'm married. My single girlfriends should never, ever revisit their past - ergo, when their ex-boyfriends come knockin' on their door, begging for them back (which they invariably do), rather than opening said door, they should lock it, bolt it, triple check it, and run to the farthest closet so they're never tempted to let the scoundrel in. Now, it's not like I ever applied this tough love theory to my own dating life, so it should come as no surprise that I'm having a tough time applying it to my writing life too. It's a shame really, that I'm more of a "preach but don't practice" type of gal, because if I were, I'd probably have not only spared myself hours upon days upon weeks of heartbreak (in my single days), but I'd also presently be sparing myself the grueling process of overhauling book #1...which is now turning into book #2.

The problem is that not unlike those exes who held so much allure when they rapped on my figurative front door, the first ms holds too much promise, too much blood, sweat and tears for me to merely abandon it. So...yes, I've come back to it. Whether or not this is the smart move, only time will tell.

The hard part about returning to an old ms (or an old boyfriend) is that with time, I'm able to see the flaws much more clearly. Of course, I'm also able to see a few of the dazzling nuggets, which is why I can't let go of it in the first place. I still love the overall story idea, which focuses on the intricacies of female friendships, and I still love some of the scenes and writing. But with a much better novel under my belt, some of it also feels almost amateurish.

So what I'm currently in the process of doing is breaking down the ms and then rebuilding it. Which is sort of like rebuilding your house when you've left your living room and bathroom intact but the rest is in shambles. In other words, it might have just been easier to start over. (Find a new house, get a new boyfriend: choose your metaphor - I'm on a roll today!) I've nuanced the characters and have rejiggered some of the plot but left the overall arc of the a point. And it's hard, VERY hard. Because, as I said, I'm fitting pieces back into the ms rather than writing it organically.

That said, when I go back and reread what I have, I'm really happy with something must be working, I guess. (Don't tell that my single girlfriends!) But like those rekindled relationships with exes, only time will tell.

(Sidenote: I've actually had the good fortune to date some wonderful guys, some of whom I'm still good friends with - and who read this blog, so I don't mean to bust on them in this post! The analogy just worked too well not to run with it.) :)

Anyone else out there overhauled a previous ms? Any dos and don'ts?


Amie Stuart said...

I rewrote my first, then sat down to edit. At around page 100 I'd input 13 pages of edits and went to save. The computer crashed, AFTER I'd shredded the pages with the edit notes on them. I took that as a sign and walked away. =(

Allison Winn Scotch said...

LOL - oh, Amie, what a nightmare! I hope you felt okay about the decision. :)

Unknown said...

um yeah. I'm still doing it too! :-)