Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Accept the Unexpected


I've been attempting to get a literary agent for about a year now, but haven't had any luck finding one.  The last rejection I received was from the last agent in a batch of queries I sent out, which means I don't currently have any queries or chapters out to any agents. So, I figured it wouldn't hurt to take a look at my final copy of my manuscript and really make sure it was the absolute best that it could be.
And then I accidentally rewrote the entire first chapter.
As you can see, I literally mean "accidentally." I had no intention of rewriting the first chapter at all. But it happened, and now I'm actually really pleased that I did! But we'll get to that later.
For now, have you ever had a character turn out to be completely different than you intended, or your plot totally changed direction on you? Maybe you had to cut a character from your novel or (like me) you found yourself rewriting a chapter in your "finished" manuscript. All of these are completely unexpected situations that writers face all the time. Most of the time, we tend to freak out (as you can see from my picture above, that is exactly what I did) or even resist these unexpected changes. But, that's not always the smartest reaction.
As I sat there, looking over the chapter I had rewritten, it occurred to me how little editing I had done to the first three chapters of my manuscript. The rest of the book has been rewritten and polished multiple times, but the beginning I left mostly untouched.
Now, the reason I did that was simple: I had received multiple compliments on those chapters when I first wrote them, giving me the feeling that they were perfect and didn't need any rewriting. But as time has taught me, your writing voice will change and mature as you become a better writer, and that's why rewrites are so important.
Which brings me back to why I'm pleased that I rewrote my first chapter. It was totally unexpected and I panicked, yes, but in the end it turned out to be better than the original first chapter! And if I had resisted this unexpected change like so many writers want to, I never would have seen the good that came out of it.
We have to accept the unexpected, guys. If your plot changes on you, let it. If your character wants to be someone different than you planned, let them. See where the unexpected takes you. It might be better than you think!
This was most definitely not something I expected to happen right now, but you know what? I'm actually okay with it. I love my book and the story it tells, so having another chance to really make sure it's as good as it can get feels great.
So if you ever encounter something unexpected in your writing, don't freak! There might just be something good hiding somewhere in the chaos.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11

4 comments:

  1. I love this post :) I re read a few paragraphs of my first chapter (I'm about 40k in - I know, I shouldn't even look yet!) and though it's well written IMO, it totally is a different feel than the rest.

    I really hope you have awesome agenting/publishing luck <3

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  2. I really like this post too! I'm about 106 pages into my book and reading this made me proofread, rewrite and edit the prologue and first three chapters :) keep at it I have total faith you will find an agent.

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  3. Thanks, guys! I'm glad you got something from the post :)

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  4. I'm pretty sure the author of The Little Princess rewrote his story twice: first he integrated 3 new scenes into a play format, and then when he was rewriting the book to accommodate those, he added several more chapters of original material. :)

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