Thursday, December 5, 2013

The False Start

Other title: Restarting A Novel

Now that National Novel Writing Month ends and we are back to more of a regular schedule, I have topics. Today is also a very non-nanowrimo type topic because during the month, even if the start of the novel is terrible, you don't stop. You keep writing. But this topic isn't about continuing to write despite set backs. Nope. This time, I'm talking about what happens when that start doesn't work.

But the tale does begin with NaNoWriMo.

Back in 2011 I worked on 2 novels, one romance and one young adult. I finished the romance at 99,000 words but the young adult only made it to over 25,000 words. And I haven't worked on it since then. Something felt off about the novel, that I couldn't figure out at first. If I was in NaNoWriMo mode, the solution would be to either keep going with how it is, or change from the point I'm at and after the month go back and fix the beginning once I figure out what is wrong. And I did figure out the problem.

First, I had to access the problem and much like how I came up with the title (Ottohahn in E Minor), I did this while driving. The thing that stalled the novel even after 25,000 words was the main character. I made the mistake of making the main character a loner that struggled to make friends, much like one of my other characters that I have in a novel almost ready for agents. Which wasn't too bad for the subplot, the romance side, but it didn't work for the rest of the story. He couldn't be a loner for the story. My bad.

So, what do I do now that I know the problem? Well, this time I'm going to do something I wouldn't with most NaNorWiMo attempts, I'm going to start over from word 1. Yep, a brand new start to the novel.

Sometimes it is great to keep going, to forge the path ahead no matter the troubles that occur in the first draft. However, on occasion there is a need to restart the novel and that is okay. So, in 2014 I have a novel to restart, several to finish and one to submit to agents. Fun times in writing land it shall be during the new year.

Have you ever had to restart a novel before getting a draft done?
What caused the problem that made it necessary?