Monday, June 05, 2006

Rewrite Without Fear

I've put the manuscript aside that I've been working on, or trying to work on. The short story starter helped me accomplish a lot, but I think I'm still caught up in that sagging, dragging middle blues. In other words, I just felt like I needed a break from it, and maybe another long story would move along better for me right now. Instead of allowing myself to start something new, I decided the best use of my time would be to work on a finished story I have that I really like, but that could use some touch ups--some kind of big ones.

Each time I opened the file and started to make those deep changes I had in mind, I froze up. I finally realized I was fixating on all of the hard work I had already put in on that manuscript, and how it would be lost if I deleted big sections of it, reworked the story, and found it had worked better the way it was to start with.

I don't know why I hadn’t thought of this before, but suddenly I thought of a way to set myself free from that fear. It was so easy that it was just a duh moment. (Smile)

I simply copied and pasted the whole manuscript into a new Word file, renamed it so I knew which copy was which, and pulled out the word hatchet. I could delete, add, move around, or what ever else I wanted to do with the story with complete freedom without any worry of what was lost or messed up.

With that freedom I've made some big changes to the plot, to one of the main characters, and even added a few other characters. I’ve only reworked the first few chapters so far, but I don't think I'm going to need to go back to the old copy. I have a feeling the story is coming out much stronger in its new reincarnation.

So the next time you aren't happy with a story and you think it needs some deep cutting and some major reworking, free yourself to play around with it without fear. Make another copy and just let yourself go. You might come up with almost a totally new story, and one that is so much more interesting than the original. You don’t have anything to lose if you give it a try.

2 comments:

Lynn Daniels said...

I just did this same thing with one of my mss. Left the original file as is, saved it as a new file, and I've been changing to my heart's content.

It's quite freeing, isn't it?

Charlotte Dillon said...

It sure is, Lynn. I can't believe something so simple helped me so much. I cut and change and add without blinking an eye. (Smile)