Monday, October 24, 2011

A Blank Page

As you guys know, I'm currently hacking my way through edits on my MS.

Right now, I'm staring at Chapter One, wondering how I can rework it.

Again.

I've already changed it three times. And to be honest, there is nothing more I can do.

It's time. To scrap the whole thing and start over.

With a blank page.

Let's face it. A blank page is scary. As a writer, it can be hard to find anything more intimidating than that empty white screen with the flashing cursor.

But there is also something refresing and reassuring about the blank page. Because in reality, it's hope in disguise, even though it seems to be dressed up for Halloween, ready to haunt you.

There are no limits. The prospects are endless. Instead of working with what you've got, you have the freedom to explore, to create, to venture outside the confinement of your scene or chapter.

It's a canvas of possibility.

Even when you're halfway through edits and your story is pretty much complete. Sometimes it's even better, because you already have your framework. You know where you want to go... Where you need to end up. You just need to remove yourself from the slush. Rehashing and overthinking your scene can become repetitive, stirring the same spot over and over until all you have is one big pile of messy scrambled eggs.

Set it aside. Open a new page. And see what you come up with. You might be surprised.

Have you guys ever reached the point where you need to edit your scenes/chapters by starting afresh? Do you find it easier than trying to make sense of what you've got when it's not working? What works for you?

24 comments:

Dawn Simon said...

It's true: the blank page can be scary and, at the same time, full of promise.

You ask good questions. What helps me when things are super muddy is to truly step away from my manuscript and focus on a new one. It's amazing how different things can look after a couple months away.

Good luck! :)

Raquel.Somatra said...

I haven't tried that technique yet, but I understand the benefits. I actually LOVE the blank page. I love starting stories. It's the midpoints where I get a little "haunted", as you say. :o) Thanks for another great post.

vanyelmoon said...

You are right. A blank page can be refreshing though a bit intimidating. Good luck :)

Christine Rains said...

The blank page can seem a bit scary. I've never scraped a whole chapter, but I've done some serious rewrites which made me very nervous.

Sarah Pearson said...

Not yet, but I suspect it's close!

Margaret said...

All the time! I always resist and think, surely no one else will notice this glaring problem that I see. But deep down inside I know better. So the blank page it is.

Ryshia Kennie said...

I find pages that aren't working as bad as that blank page. What works for me is never dumping anything but saving it in another document - often that piece just fit better somewhere else in the story. Kind of a combination of writing fresh and matching that up with the old.

Janet Johnson said...

I have so been there. Sometimes it's a lot easier than trying to make something already written conform.

But still, definitely scary.

The Spooky Whisk said...

Are you kidding? Blank pages are exciting, wide open and fun. My gosh, have a fun go of it. It is after all, fiction.

Play, play, play.

Joanne said...

I have cut out scenes, and added new ones too. I like adding the new ones, probably because I know the story so well by that point that the writing just flows.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've rewritten a few small scenes but never scrapped a whole chapter. You can do it though!

Mohamed Mughal said...

I'm with Spooky Whisk above..the blank page is the writers' blank check, something to go wild with.

Liza said...

I love the "canvas of possibility!"

Anne Gallagher said...

Someone once said to me, "Your story begins at Chapter Three."

I didn't believe them and tried to rework the beginning again and again over and over, to the result of banging my head and crying in my keyboard. They meant that nine times out of ten, the first chapter (and sometimes the second) are basically backstory for the writer, not written for the reader. And I think that's true. Well, at least in my books.

yes, blank canvases are good, but sometimes what you really need is a long time away. I never believed that "fresh eyes" made a difference, but they really really do. Take a month or more and then go back to it. You might be surprised what it will take to make it work.

Use the blank page to begin the next book.

Carole Anne Carr said...

Hi, I'm doing Nanowrimo this year again - to stop me doing exactly what you describe. At least by Christmas I'll have another finished book to edit!

Kenda Turner said...

I love the phrase "hope in disguise"!

I'm like Anne--I was once told in a 20 pp. critique that my story started in chapter 2. That was some of the best advice I've ever been given. Believe me, the first blank page of that rewrite turned out to be a battery-recharger as excitement for the project was renewed...

Alleged Author said...

I remember rewriting the WIP I had a month ago and feeling like I'd done it over, and over, and over. It gets so tiring. Just when you think its perfect, too!

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

I love a blank page. It's the editing I find daunting! Probably because I never feel like I'm completely finished.

You recently visited my blog and followed. Thanks! I followed you right back here. :)

Nancy Thompson said...

I've never scratched an entire chapter. I've rewritten it, adding content, but never started it over again.

Have you let any other writers critique it yet? That helps a great deal. Fresh eyes, a different perspective, but one who knows your genre.

Lynda R Young said...

That's why I outline now. I used to just wing it but that meant lots of rewrites later on. By outlining first I can see the big picture before I write it and make quick adjustments if it's not working.

Miranda Hardy said...

I have a book shelved at the moment that I will need to go chapter by chapter and redo the entire thing. I'm not looking forward to it, but some of the comments are very inspiring and positive.

I enjoy unwrapping a story and seeing how it unfolds.

Singularity said...

I see a blank page as a doorway into an adventure!

C D Meetens said...

Oh, this sounds familiar. My rewrites for my WIP involved an entire rewrite of the beginning. I remember that flashing cursor below the words, "Chapter One" well. In fact, I saw them several times, as I tried to start it in various different ways, and finally found one I was happy with.

I like the possibility of the blank page, but I still get nagged at the back of my mind - am I ruining my work? I hope I'm making it better.

Medeia Sharif said...

I basically rewrote a manuscript over the summer. I had to do it, because what I already had needed too many changes. I rewrote most of the scenes and chapters. So, I understand.