Lately, I’m re-writing and expanding a novella that some of you might have read before about a group of artists who are friends and lovers and circle in and out of each other’s lives. (Sound familiar?)
Anyway, I’m re-writing and adapting this story—which I love and hope to publish independently sometime in the fall—and there are a few things I changed from the original to expand it into a more complete novel.
Most of those things I really like. I love the expanded story lines for some of the characters, and I love the way I can delve into character’s thoughts and motivations more. I love the new setting and the new characters. And I made one big change to the timeline that I thought was the right thing to do because of some feedback.
It was suggested to me and made sense, so I twisted and turned it. I made it work for the story. I convinced myself it was the best thing to do, but it never really felt right. Something about it always put me off, but I stuck with it, and sent the first draft out to my pre-readers, some of whom hadn’t ever read the story before, even in novella form.
Guess what their biggest criticism was.
That’s right! That timeline shift that I worked so hard to convince myself was the best thing for the story was the first thing mentioned.
And that kind of makes me happy.
Because I think it’s a good lesson to learn about writing. It’s really important to listen to input from your readers. After all, it can be easy to write something you love, and not be able to see the places where it won’t make sense to your audience. You wrote it! You know the whole world and all the motivations and thoughts and feelings of all the characters. But your audience doesn’t, and that’s why feedback is so important.
However, there are also times when you write something, and it just seems right, even if you can’t say exactly why. There is a certain instinct you develop about your characters and your stories, and sometimes that’s what you need to go with, even if it doesn’t seem ideal close-up.
Maybe it’s a mood thing, or a voice thing, or something I don’t even know how to label because I haven’t actually been writing that long, but it’s definitely there. (See the precise language in that sentence? That’s why they don’t pay me the big bucks.)
So what am I going to do?
I’m going to rewrite the timeline and put it back where it was.
Because in this case, I should have stuck with my first instinct. Gut feeling. Writer’s intuition, or whatever you want to call it. And now I know that when I’m re-writing something, and I have to convince myself over and over it’s the right thing to do, I should probably take a second look at that suggestion. And maybe just stick with the original.
Has there been a time when you’ve written something and revised it, but then wished later that you hadn’t? Why did you change it in the first place? Why wasn’t it the best choice? I’d love to hear your thoughts!