Epiphanies Are Amazing

Sometimes you just need to let go, trust yourself (and God, if you believe), and roll with the punches. Well, I rolled, and I realized that maybe I don’t need to rewrite my entire novel to be satisfied with it. Just fix what needs fixing.

I have been struggling to rewrite this novel. Yes, I kind of like the way I’m getting extra scenes and getting into the head of my other main character, but I don’t like that I have to rewrite 50,000 words. That’s a lot of words.

Long story short, my story is about a boy who ends up finding a portal to a parallel universe that is riddled with war in the U.S. and then goes on to try and find a way to help out as much he can without dying.

I put a lot of time and effort into writing it the first time, and it’s not that I don’t want to improve it, but as I look at my second draft and look at my first, I’m noticing major changes in what’s happening in the story; some good, some bad.

For instance:

  • Good: Changing a mini-major plot point that then leads the main character (boy) to find the portal, and frankly, I really like this change.
  • Bad: I’m finding that what I thought I wanted to write (1st person, present tense) isn’t what I wanted after all.
  • Good: I’ve been able to get into the head of my second main character (girl) by writing chapters from her POV.
  • Bad: If I keep my old draft, do I want to separate the chapters into different perspectives, or keep it all one POV? This requires either heavy editing or reworking scenes with her in it. Either way, lots of editing.

The list goes on, but as I’ve been sitting here the past few days trying to rewrite the story, I’ve noticed just how much I 1) don’t want to rewrite everything even though I’ve made it up to 12k words, and 2) I loved what I wrote the first time because it was in my voice, not someone else’s.

I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve realized in this short time: My rewrite is turning into voices I read in YA all the time, and I want to stand apart from that.

Having your own voice in how you write is a major component to your writing style. I know I have my own unique voice in my writing when I write short stories, and even when I wrote my first novel draft back in November. But now?

I’m noticing that I’m sounding like a lot of other YA novels. I understand that that can be the norm for these kinds of novels (and don’t get me wrong, I like reading that style), but… it’s not mine.

Also, I love the different perspectives and getting to know my characters, but as I was continuing I was noticing how similar those voices of those characters were beginning to sound and I was fearing that they would soon sound like the same person. I want readers to be able to differentiate between characters and not think that it all sounds the same. If I write from one perspective, I want it to sound like it. If I write from two, then anyone should be able to tell the difference between them.

I was able to describe so much more in my original writing than in my rewrite. I love being able to use descriptors in my writing to give a sense of the world around the character. That’s part of my style and it was almost completely gone in my rewrite.

I don’t know why I struggled so hard through this when I should have just realized that what I had, my creation, was part of who I am as a writer. To change it so dramatically, even though it did help in ways, but hinder in others, was just something that was unnecessary.

But it was needed.

If I hadn’t done what I did then maybe I wouldn’t have realized what I’d done. Yes, of course my original draft needs plenty of editing and polishing before it ever gets into the hands of others. Yes, of course I can add chapters from other characters’ perspectives if I want in my editing process.

But I think most importantly is that I don’t lose my voice. It’s part of what makes a writer a writer, after all. There are others things, too, but that’s most important, in my opinion.

So, just to let you know, yes, I will still be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo in April, but on a short story that has been dying to get out for the past two weeks (like, I can’t contain it anymore, it needs to be written).

I think this is for the best. I’ll review both versions, at least sections of them, before making an absolute decision, plus I’ll be getting my husband’s opinion on it since he’s into the kind of content I’m writing about. I don’t want to keep feeling the doubt that’s been creeping up on me throughout most of this rewriting process. I want to be sure of myself and my writing.

Have you ever had this kind of problem? Did you realize it early in the process, or way down the line? Any advice? Let me know in the comments!

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