Don’t Be Scared to Change Your Story

I decided to re-write the first chapter of Sacrifice because it’s the only section of the book I’ve been unhappy with. I always grimace when I have to provide that section for queries. Every time I submit to an agent I catch myself saying, “Ugh this isn’t the best part.” Well why isn’t it? Why would I keep an opener that isn’t strong enough to be a good selling point? If i’m not fully happy with the first chapter, why would I expect an agent to enjoy it?

Trust your instincts and don’t be stubborn with your drafts.

If something feels wrong or weak, you can always get another opinion or test a different scenario out.

Ask yourself questions. How could this part be more interesting? What is the weakest part? Is it the dialogue? Are the first few lines not catchy enough?

For Sacrifice, I asked myself what I thought was weak about the first chapter. I asked myself what parts worked and what parts weren’t helping the flow of the story. I came to the conclusion that I had all the information I needed to convey, but I needed to change my execution. I brainstormed different ways I could change the first chapter to better introduce my character. I decided to keep important dialogue bits, but i’m completely changing the setting. Instead of a boring phone conversation, my main character will be on the job and battling a supernatural creature. I’m currently testing different creatures and settings for this particular supernatural encounter.

So remember, don’t be scared to go back and make further revisions to your story. If something isn’t working, it’s best to improve the areas before making the plunge into queries. Sometimes I think we mentally tell ourselves the manuscript is done because we want the story to be finished, but not always when it’s actually a polished final draft. I wish I had thought to fix my “final draft” sooner. Lesson learned. (;

Writing Tip: Push Through the Awkward Stage

Photo credit goes to jjpacers

Photo credit goes to jjpacers

I used to think that revisions were the hardest part of writing, but honestly just finishing the first draft is the real challenge. Fight through and don’t try to edit or re-writing anything until you get to the end of the story. Editing during a first draft will only slow you down and you want to stay motivated to push through to finish the story. Once you finished the first draft then you’ve done the hard part. Relax and pat yourself on the back because you’ve already done what many never accomplish. I hear so many people say “I have this great idea for a story.” or “I want to write a book someday.” And often those people never accomplish that. So set your manuscript to the side and take a break. Read some books or take a vacation. If you want to keep writing other material, then feel free to do so. Just don’t touch your first draft for a few weeks and then come back with fresh eyes and start your revisions.

In the past I would get frustrated with my art or writing because I felt like what I was creating just wasn’t good enough. A really helpful artist (acrylic painter Brandon Schaefer) gave a great piece of advice to “push through the awkward stage” because after you get your foundation down, you can go back and make corrections and add detail with a fresh pair of eyes. The same is true with writing. You take your idea and you lay out the ground work with the first draft. The first draft is the foundation of your creation and the revisions are making the corrections and adding detail to make it better.

Think about all the great books you’ve read, you can’t assume that what you read was a first or even second draft of a novel. Lots of great books will go through a tedious revision process so don’t be so hard on yourself if things don’t seem to flow perfect in a first draft. So stay motivated and always try to push through that awkward stage.

Hope you found this tip helpful. Please feel free to comment and let me know what topics you’d like to see discussed here!