Third Time’s the Charm?

Today I wrote the third version of the few pages that mark the beginning of a new phase of my book. The first version got okay feedback, but I and my fellow writers agreed the voice wasn’t quite right.

So I wrote it for a second time. I changed the voice and changed the tone in a way I thought would sound more personal. I put in some new, clever stuff as well. Satisfied, I stuffed the stapled pages into my backpack and brought them to the group.

They hated it.

I wasn’t even surprised–by the time I finished reading the section out loud, I knew it wasn’t working. What had escaped me at the keyboard became obvious to my ears. I hadn’t just failed to improve it; I’d made it much worse.

So today I wrote a third draft. It’s different from the first two; it doesn’t try to cover as much and it’s definitely more personal. (Cried while writing it, which is usually a good sign I’m being authentic.) But I have no idea whether it works or not.

What’s really hard is that I haven’t got a plan for what to do if this isn’t better. I’m pretty sure I’ll need to put it aside for a while and try to work on another section, but I don’t want to. I want to be happy with this piece before I do later ones.

And I want a pony.

One response to “Third Time’s the Charm?

  1. Yeah, it happens. Impervious went through three major – as in, structure, tone, voice, everything – rewrites. Set it aside if you need to; don’t lose it, because there’s something in there you’re trying to say, and as things jell, its purpose will become clear. It might be that it’s an important chunk of another book, or it might be part of this book but not the part you think it is.

    The hardest lesson: the more you try to force the piece to be what you think it should be, the worse it will get. It’s trying to tell you what it wants to be, and you’ll hear what it’s saying eventually.

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