Starting Over: Mirroring Kristin Cashore’s Process Of Writing Bitterblue
I am a fan of the “Graceling Realm Series” by Kristin Cashore. In the back of the third and final book, “Bitterblue,” I found a mention of the blog post that detailed how she ended up restarting the writing process for that book all over again.
Imagine having written seven notebooks, all filled with the first draft, the equivalent of 800 pages of a typed manuscript only to be told to “start over” by your editor. Infuriating right?
Well, Cashore agreed with her editor after some thought. And when she sat down to write it, she wrote a much better, more concise manuscript.
Of course, in order to get the motivation to write, she had to trick her brain. She had to use tricks to tell herself she was writing a brand-new book. She had to use other tricks to show herself she was making progress and not just floundering.
I recently went through a similar experience. Although I wrote nowhere near 800 plus pages of a manuscript (more like 200 pages and 61,000 words), I felt overwhelmed with the prospect of editing the novel I had written.
It is the longest manuscript I have written to date, and the whole vision of it changed around 40,000 words in. Not to mention that 90 percent of the plot points happen in the last 20,000 words.
Simply put, it is a mess. And I knew what I had to do to fix it. I had to pull a Cashore. I was going to start from scratch.
But first, I had to flesh out the characters and the character arcs more. I didn’t do that beforehand, and it led to a messy, less-than-compelling draft.
So, that is what I am working on now. Reworking my characters a bit, adding in more of a family atmosphere, adding in new characters, deleting old ones, and overall fixing the thing that drives story most: the protagonist’s journey.
It will be a long process. And it’s overwhelming at times to try to get myself to start writing and planning the characters over again. But if I keep using mind tricks to help myself, maybe I can make a better, more fleshed out story like Cashore did.
I am celebrating my victory: I wrote a complete “Draft Zero” of a full-length novel for the first time. I am proud of myself. But I need to get back to work because writing is a job that requires you to show up every day, work hard, and never give up.
I didn’t choose the life of a writer; it chose me. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved writing. It has been my passion for years. There are times I want to give up now that I’ve found how much work writing is and how soul-crushing it can be. But I won’t. Because for all the bad it gives me, I get much more in return.
I feel good when I write even if it’s hard to get started. It allows me to play and for my mind to wander. It reminds me of being a carefree kid. And that feeling, despite all the work that comes with it, is too amazing for me to give up on writing.