Back to the Drawing Board?

Not quite. But I’m doing something I said I was done with.

Revisions on Bound.

Not editing. Not perking up scenes that aren’t quite there yet. I mean actually ignoring everything that’s already there, going back to square one and figuring out the best way to tell this story, and THEN seeing whether anything can be salvaged from the original.

This is terrifying. I thought I was done with that. I thought I had my story, that it was just clean-up from this point on. After all, people have liked it, right? Some have even loved it. So it’s good enough.

The thing is, good enough isn’t good enough. I can do better. No matter how it hurts, I’m going to make this thing the best it can be. If that means “killing my darlings,” ripping out scenes that I’ve spent so much time and effort on but that don’t contribute to the best work I can do, then so be it. If it means that I don’t feel ready for this thing to see the light of day for another 6 months… well, that will hurt a lot, too. But I’m not doing this to get published (even though, hello, that’s a huge dream of mine). I’m doing it to tell a story, and what’s the point of putting it out there if it’s only good enough?

It can be tighter. It can be sharper. The stakes can be higher. Everything can mean more to my characters, and therefore to my readers.

I’ve complained before about my perfectionist tendencies, but I think that right now my old frenemy Perfectionism is doing me a favour. As long as she’s not making me feel terrible for not getting it “right” the first time (which she totally will, but I’m used to that), she might actually help me do something better. If she’s telling me that I can do more, that to not at least try would be settling for less than what I can achieve, I can accept that. I still want to punch her in her smug, stupid face, but for once, I don’t think she’s wrong.

Am I rambling yet? Because I just decided this, and I’m still a bit freaked out.

So here’s what I’m going to do, for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing: I know my story inside and out (and inside-out, for that matter). I know my characters better than I know most of my friends. I’m going to print out the full current manuscript and lock it away for a while, and I’m going to start over. I’m going to find a stronger starting point, I’m going to raise the stakes, I’m going to make things harder on everyone involved. I’m probably going to cut characters. I’m going to keep the story tighter, and I hope get down to the 90,000 word range. When all of that planning is done I’ll see what I can salvage from before, but this isn’t a conservation project. Much as it will hurt to lose the lovely dialogue I worked so hard on, the scenes I’ve set that mean so much to me, it’ll be worth the sacrifice if it makes a stronger story.

It’s all a learning experience, right?

EDIT: I wrote this last Thursday. I’ve thought about it, I’ve planned it out. A lot can change, but I’m actually surprised how much of the original structure really works, with some changes needed to accomplish the aforementioned tightening, sharpening, and general shitting on characters’ heads to make things more interesting. I’m re-doing the first few chapters.

Aren’s my biggest problem, as expected. Asshole.

Still doing a complete rewrite, but I’m really happy to say that the last version really just needs plastic surgery, not a transplant into some kind of android body… or whatever. Science Fiction’s not my thing, I don’t know how that works.

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

10 responses to “Back to the Drawing Board?

  • Michelle Proulx

    This sounds like a massive and terrifying project. But you sound like you have a great plan, and know what you’re doing, so I’m sure you’ll succeed 🙂 Best of luck! I hope I never have to do such a massive re-write, but I have a feeling it will happen eventually. Let us know how it goes!

    • katemsparkes

      It’ll be great… Once I get my netbook fixed or replaced (which I need to decide in the next 2 hours). This was bad timing. -_-

      • Michelle Proulx

        Computers breaking sucks. Um … netbooks are so cheap, it might be easier to replace than repair? Depends on how old it is, and if you have warranty.

        • katemsparkes

          No warranty (3 years old). I can get a refurbished one for cheaper than repairs… But it’s still old, so I guess it could break, too. And I’d have to get them to do a data transfer thingy. And I get oddly attached to inanimate objects. I knew I shouldn’t have put stickers on it! 😛

          • Michelle Proulx

            Hahaha, I put stickers on my netbook too. And it’s ALSO on its last legs! Maybe our netbooks are connected via some invisible, virtual chord? Maybe if I boot up my netbook, the sympathetic bond between our computers will inspire yours to start working again. Shall I try it?

  • Jae

    Congrats! I think that means you’re becoming a real writer because story matters first. And I think once we’re willing to take the big risks and make the big changes we’re on our way to creating something really worthwhile. Sounds like you’re coming along just fine. If you ever need a first chapter reader, I’d be interested—well, if you’re cool with honest feedback. Although I suppose I can do fluffy feedback too if necessary. 😉 Either way, I look forward to hearing how you progress. You should congratulate yourself, be it chocolate, your favorite drink—whatever. That’s a great attitude to have!

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