This is topic What do I do with this nerve-wracking beginning? in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by akeenedesign (Member # 7816) on :
I'm in the middle of rewriting my second draft. I adore my story, and often I'll lose myself in it as if it was just a regular book that was sucking me in. I can't express just how in love I am with my book.

Except... I don't love the very beginning. I used to like it just fine, but as I read it with the eyes of an editor or agent, I begin to question many of my word choices and sentence structure. The result is that I am no longer able to see it with objective eyes, since I have made so many minor changes. I'm afraid it's over-edited, and have absolutely no idea how to fix over-editing.

I'm not necessarily new to writing, but I've never finished a novel before this one, so I'm not familiar with the feeling of "this part is strong and this part isn't as strong" which I guess inevitably comes with long works.

Is there any advice or insight or personal experiences out there that might be helpful?
Posted by pdblake (Member # 9218) on :
Either get someone else to read it or put it away for a while, get on with something else and then read it again with fresh eyes. Give yourself time to forget about it.
Posted by axeminister (Member # 8991) on :
I think the only way to be objective is to put it away for a long time.
OSC says a year is how long a novel needs to sit in order for the author to be completely objective.

The thing is, if you give to a reader, they'll have suggestions, and you'll just end up editing again.

If you're getting ready to send to agents, etc, then yeah, keep going, but if not... Let it sit.

Write the next one.

Read this after time has passed. Read this after you've gained more writing experience. I can almost guarantee the solution will present itself to "future you".

Posted by MAP (Member # 8631) on :
Putting it away is a great suggestion. I don't think I could do it for a whole year, maybe a month or two.

If you really think you have over-edited, you might want to go back to an earlier version, and start editing that.

Good luck with this.
Posted by Owasm (Member # 8501) on :
If you absolutely have to continue to write, pick a different starting point or rewrite the beginning from scratch. In other words, scrap your current beginning and re-imagine a new one.

You aren't changing your novel. You know your characters and you know where you have to be at the end of your beginning.
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
Put it away now.

Over editing is not something you want to do. Really. I did it once. It's not fun.

Wait at least a month, preferably six before you look at it again.

If you really have over edited the beginning, about the only way I've found to deal with that is to rewrite it--at least that part. If you have an earlier copy before you over edited, you might be able to avoid that.

The good new is that in six months, if you keep writing on something else, you'll be a still better writer than you are now.
Posted by C@R3Y (Member # 9669) on :
Oh God...

Over editing...

Oh God...

It is NOT fun, especially how much I over edited when I finished my first novel in the summer before my senior year of high school. I edited that thing so much, gosh, I don't even want to talk about it. Ha Ha. Plus, it's not very important.

Take a break. Work on something new, a short story or two. Just a little something to take your mind off the novel.

Then, give it a few weeks. I'd say a little over a month. Maybe even two depending on how much you worked on that novel of yours. Then check it out and observe your options, see which you like best--beginning wise, I mean--and then have a few people read it. Consider their suggestions, especially if you have similar comments, and then go from there. It sometimes really helps, too, if you have a person or two who is familiar with your novel, and people who are not so familiar with it.

It gives you, definitely, a better idea of what you should do with your beginning, especially if you give them several different options to go off of, to ultimately chose the very best path for starting your novel.

That's how I feel you should go about doing this. =]
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
Dean Wesley Smith shared this solution to over-editing:

Put the current version away.

Start writing whatever you fear may have been over-edited all over again from scratch without looking at any of your drafts.

(If it helps to let it all sit for a while, do that, but I don't think it's necessary. Just don't look at any of your drafts.)

You will be writing your new version fresh and with the new writing (as opposed to editing) skills you have developed since your first draft of that story (or part of your story).

Just stay completely away from (don't even peek at) anything you've already written and edited on that story.
Posted by axeminister (Member # 8991) on :

To further Kathleen's statement, my WotF finalist was written from scratch - twice. So, I'm one to recommend rewriting as well.

Me and DWS - who'da thunk it.

I don't know the status of my Q1 or Q2 entries - but both were also completely rewritten from scratch.

Granted, I hope this isn't my MO forever, but while I'm learning, I don't have a problem with it because each new draft is new material.

In fact, I find rewrites improve the story a ton because, A. I know the world really well, so I'm sort of coming at the story from a different angle, and, B. I can usually reduce any verbose sections down to a sentence or two, adding and enhancing other areas such as character, world, and details.

Posted by C@R3Y (Member # 9669) on :
Hm, you just brought something to my attention...

I was under the mistaken impression that "editing" and "over-editing" was actually kind of the same as "revising". It's not necessarily over-editing that I'd done. It's just been revising, more or less.

I didn't really think about that completely until now.

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