On the horns of a dilemma! Help!

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AdeleR
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On the horns of a dilemma! Help!

Post by AdeleR » November 15th, 2010, 4:38 pm

I am at a crossroads. One that you very possibly have been at before. Please can you tell me which path you took and if it turned out to be the lesser travelled path to sanity or the highway to lunacy? Thank you!

I have a first draft of a MG (older tweens) Mystery that I wrote many moons ago and keep coming back to. It has plot holes like you wouldn't believe, but I think I have solved most of them (in my mind, not in actual re-write form!)

However, since those heady days of busting out a first draft...I have been reading and researching and thinking...and am a bit more aware of the market, what is needed and what I actually, really want to write.

What I think I actually, really want to write is a MG (younger) Fantasy in a much more quirky and fun voice. (The first draft of The Book has more of a dystopian type setting. Bit more serious all together).

So the dilemma is this; do I...?

a) write off the first draft as a useful exercise in finding out what I really want to write, and start all over again

b) stick to my guns and finish the first draft as originally conceived and see how that goes in the query process
or
c)take the central concept (that I still love) from the first draft but essentially craft an entirely new animal around it, complete with new voice, pov etc?

Tell me, dear reader, what would you do?

GeeGee55
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Re: On the horns of a dilemma! Help!

Post by GeeGee55 » November 15th, 2010, 5:41 pm

I guess it depends upon how you make your decisions. Do you analyze or go with your gut?

A good test might be to do a trial run with the new voice, POV, etc. You won't get too far into it before you'll realize what you want to do. If you've only done a first draft, there's probably a lot of rewriting to do anyway. At least, that's been my experience. Sometimes, the story can take off in a completely different direction than you first thought when you get into a rewrite.

Good luck with your story either way.

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Holly
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Re: On the horns of a dilemma! Help!

Post by Holly » November 15th, 2010, 6:52 pm

Go with your gut. Write what you really, really want to write.

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Robin
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Re: On the horns of a dilemma! Help!

Post by Robin » November 15th, 2010, 7:41 pm

Holly wrote:Go with your gut. Write what you really, really want to write.
Couldn't have said it better. Ultimately, you have to invest hours upon hours writing this book, so make it something you will enjoy writing.
Best of luck!
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Quill
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Re: On the horns of a dilemma! Help!

Post by Quill » November 15th, 2010, 8:15 pm

AdeleR wrote:I am at a crossroads. One that you very possibly have been at before. Please can you tell me which path you took and if it turned out to be the lesser travelled path to sanity or the highway to lunacy? Thank you!

I have a first draft of a MG (older tweens) Mystery that I wrote many moons ago and keep coming back to. It has plot holes like you wouldn't believe, but I think I have solved most of them (in my mind, not in actual re-write form!)

However, since those heady days of busting out a first draft...I have been reading and researching and thinking...and am a bit more aware of the market, what is needed and what I actually, really want to write.

What I think I actually, really want to write is a MG (younger) Fantasy in a much more quirky and fun voice. (The first draft of The Book has more of a dystopian type setting. Bit more serious all together).

So the dilemma is this; do I...?

a) write off the first draft as a useful exercise in finding out what I really want to write, and start all over again

b) stick to my guns and finish the first draft as originally conceived and see how that goes in the query process
or
c)take the central concept (that I still love) from the first draft but essentially craft an entirely new animal around it, complete with new voice, pov etc?

Tell me, dear reader, what would you do?
A and C can be viewed as two aspects of the same, so in essence you have A/C vs. B.

Regarding B: I wouldn't think in terms of seeing "how that goes in the query process". You have likely hundreds of hours of revision and rewrite ahead of you, far too much to wait till the query process to see how it flies. You'll want feedback far earlier should you decide to go forward with the original story.

Regarding the choice: I suggest you sit quietly with it until one of the projects calls to you. If both, then which is louder and more persistent? I don't necessarily mean literally sit, although that could work. I mean go about your business and keep your inner ears open. Monitor your feelings. Monitor the muse. Give yourself as much time as you need, or if you need to make a deadline, make it and then give yourself that much time. If the answer isn't clear, start writing on one or the other. It will become clear.

Question: why would you invest in the already started project if your heart was no longer in it? You do realize that the first draft is just the tip of the iceberg, workwise?

Good luck.

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polymath
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Re: On the horns of a dilemma! Help!

Post by polymath » November 15th, 2010, 8:17 pm

I'm probably adding to the dilemma. Oh well, in for a penny in for a pound. Voice does a lot to carry a tale foward. It's expressing commentary on the theme or topic or subject of the tale. Tension could be low and still result in a fun tale if the voice stands out.

The concern I'd have with a fun and quirky voice is in middle grade genres it might not translate as age appropriate. It could go over readers' heads. Irony would be tough. That age group speaks its own ironies that don't translate into adult humor and vice versa. However, there's a strength in middle grade humor that might best not be overlooked, the power to annoy adults with it. Age appropriate irony for middle graders is somewhat black and white and tends to be over the top in terms of literal, unsubtle, transparent verbal, situational, and dramatic irony species. Sarcasm and cynicism and skepticism too. Overstatements probably go farther into hyperbole too. Understatements might be too subtle for the age group. Symbolism is simpler minded as well.

I'd consider the above, adapt to it, and move ahead with a complete rewrite of the original concept in the new voice. The main reasons are because the hunch is asking for it and because a total rewrite can't help but incorporate what's been learned since the first draft and because the voice of the first draft might be on the deadpan side from the typical seriousness of dystopian settings and best left behind so it doesn't intrude in the new version.

I'd much prefer a lively voice over a neutral one. A voice I'd like to see for a dystopian setting is a sarcastic, cynical, self-deprecating resignation to the way things are all the while seeking to alter the situation. A first person narrator expressing that attitude would seem to me indicated in those circumstances.
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AdeleR
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Re: On the horns of a dilemma! Help!

Post by AdeleR » November 16th, 2010, 3:20 am

Thank you so, so much for your replies - especially to Polymath for taking all that time to respond. Very much appreciated.

I think you're right in that I have to listen to my gut.

Also, that 'irony' for MG might be tricky. I'm thinking more fabulous and fantastically fun (Charlie & The Chocolate Factory)...than witty or ironic.

I'll try out the new voice and see how I get on.

Thanks again!

:-)

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Re: On the horns of a dilemma! Help!

Post by poptart » November 16th, 2010, 6:21 am

Speaking for myself, I'd probably choose C on the basis that the other two would bore me rigid and boredom is a total novel killer.
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Re: On the horns of a dilemma! Help!

Post by Sommer Leigh » November 16th, 2010, 8:28 am

It is hard to tell you what you should do, but I can tell you what I'd do. I'd combine A and C and take what I learned from the first attempt and put it toward the really awesome second attempt. I think it is ok to let yourself fail at an attempt if it seeds the next one.
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Down the well
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Re: On the horns of a dilemma! Help!

Post by Down the well » November 16th, 2010, 12:16 pm

AdeleR wrote:So the dilemma is this; do I...?

a) write off the first draft as a useful exercise in finding out what I really want to write, and start all over again

b) stick to my guns and finish the first draft as originally conceived and see how that goes in the query process
or
c)take the central concept (that I still love) from the first draft but essentially craft an entirely new animal around it, complete with new voice, pov etc?
JMO, but...

a) Yes, write off the first draft as time spent learning. And realize it worked. You now know what you really want to write.

b) No. Sounds like you've lost that vision.

c) Yes, if it is still holding your attention (and your heart) you've got something. Try printing out the old first draft, and then go through it with a pen to mark the parts you really like. Cross out the rest. Open a new file on your computer and start writing with your new vision. Good luck!

Fenris
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Re: On the horns of a dilemma! Help!

Post by Fenris » November 17th, 2010, 10:48 am

Well, whether you decide to keep it or not, the first draft is always a useful writing experience. As for querying as-is, I'd advise against it. Even if it was the version you wanted to run with, it's typically a bad idea to query on the first draft.

I'd go with C. If it's been a while since you wrote the first draft, you may be slightly out-of-touch with your characters, if not the finer points of your plot. Rediscovering them would be good for both you and your characters--and who knows, you may go in a direction you hadn't thought of before! I've been toying with the idea of a rewrite recently as well (purely out of curiosity, wondering what my WIP could have been if I took it in a slightly different direction), and it has been nothing but helpful. Even if it's not the one I end up using, I'm getting to know my characters even better than the first time around, and I'm also beginning to realize all the places where my plot can be tweaked to make it even better, more unexpected and surprising, even if overall it remains the same. So in my opinion, a rewrite is always helpful, particularly if you've lost the 'spark' from the first draft. But maybe that's just me.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do!
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