A “Tada” moment or saying goodbye to my darlings…

My first round of revisions mainly consisted of changing:

  • the tense (I only figured out in Chapter 22 that I needed to write this in present tense – my novel has 25 chapters, oupsie)
  • the first name of my main character (how did I even think of calling her Laura? She´s an Erin through and through!)
  • one subplot of my story…

It was tedious but necessary. However, it wasn´t painful and when I was done, I thought: I´ve done it! I may have some more changes but nothing too too major. Yep, I had not yet realize what revising could really entail.

 
 

William Faulkner said: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” and Stephen King added: “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings“.

While I accepted this at face value, I didn´t realize what it really meant. I spent two years with that novel already. Scary. While I tried my hand at other stories, it´s the one I always came back to. I rewrote it, I changed some of the subplots along the way but the more I worked on certain parts, the more they became engraved in my heart. Some dialogues, some images, some parts of the story just needed to stay…until I came to a “Tada” realization: my story sucks.

Ok that was dramatic. It doesn´t suck. At all. Actually, it´s pretty great. But the way I was tiptoeing around it, afraid to hurt it had more to do with the fact that I was afraid of hurting my own self-esteem. What I finally saw was how much better my story could become if I actually dared to change it a bit. I am not rewriting the entire thing but I am deleting the first chapter (Tarah´s feedback on it helped with that…I finally saw my story more as a reader than as a writer…), I am changing the curse a bit to make it 1) more dramatic and 2) more coherent. I am adding one or two layers to some of the characters and I am taking the story to another emotional level. It will be a lot of work and it will not be the end of it (since I know more changes will probably come once it´s going through the beta-reading). but it will be worth it.

So, basically, my story with revising has been a bit like this:

 

Source: pinterest.com via Elodie on Pinterest

And even though, I fell on my butt the first time around, the important thing is that I still managed to go back up and transform it into a “Tada” moment 😀

How about you, did you have any “Tada” or “Aha” moments in your writing/revising recently?

10 Comments

  1. Carissa says:

    I totally know what you mean! It’s so hard to decide to make the big changes … especially if it means cutting a character. But I am always happier when I do, and unfailingly surprised at how little I miss them. Besides those characters/paragraphs/descriptions/scenes could always end up in another book!

  2. I love the cartoon of the typist and her words behind her. It illustrates the subject perfectly! We all struggle with this dilemma. Realizing what needs to be done and doing it is the first step to writing a fantastic story. I was going through my old files the other day and found half a dozen versions of my first two books but don’t have the heart to delete them yet, in case there is something in there I can salvage for another story! I re-wrote the beginning so many times in the first book until I got it ‘just right’ and my editor pushed me hard on my second until I had that ‘Tada!’ moment, thanks to a suggestion from my writer’s group. Their answer to the question, ‘what would be the most compelling reason to send my character to the past?’ – a death! 🙂

  3. Eve says:

    Oh congrats on your Tadah moment. I haven’t reached that point thus far, I’m still writing mine very slowly. Hopefully I’ll be able to edit and revise mine with as much grace as you.

  4. Yay! Congrats on hitting a breakthrough!

    I think the more we listen to our story and characters, to more breakthrough we receive. I’ve learned that when something isn’t flowing while I’m writing or I’m struggling with how a scene should play out, I know its time to step back and just think about it. That’s happened several times on my second novel. Every time I stop and consider, the “right” path makes itself very clear. 🙂

  5. Robin Moran says:

    I had that about the first chapter of my WiP. It just wasn’t working because the flow of it was all wrong and I was struggling moving from one era to the next. After some thinking I found a way around it and it feels better now. 🙂 It resulted in changing a character’s interest and where they start out in the story but it works a whole lot better. It meant chapter two needed a whole rewrite but I’m pleased about how it starts now.

  6. Colin says:

    When trimming the fat from my work (which I am constantly having to do), I sometimes wonder if I go too far. Have I chopped adjectives and trimmed sentences too much, so they become stark and flat? I think once you’ve got over the hesitation to kill your babies, you have to learn restraint so you don’t become a mass murderer! 🙂

  7. Jaime says:

    I’m still banging my head against the wall with this. Mainly I’m struggling with the infodump still, but some of that will definitely involved chopping out things I love. Ah well. Has to be done. Glad you were able to do it 😀

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