So, it’s been a while between drafts.  Draft 3 (actually v3.5.2 in my programmer’s version approach to things) was officially tied off and dropped a couple of weeks ago, having hit around 70,000 words.  I figured out what I’d done wrong, and what I disliked about it; and what it was simply wasn’t something I could tackle with even large-scale edits of the existing text.  So it’s out with the old, and in with the new.

I’ve found it hard in the past sometimes to put down what I’ve done, and simply come at it again, but sometimes it’s really necessary.  In one of the books I used while trying to improve my technique, I read about a novel that was completely written and finished before the author decided the story would be improved if it was told from the first-person perspective of the main character instead.  So, she put the original to one side and started over again.  Sometimes, to accomplish what you really want, you have to be willing to discard what you have already done.

Although I’ve done that with previous drafts, they’ve never been even so much as half the size of this one, and I had some serious qualms about dropping so much.  But after some internal debating on the issue, I made a stuttering start on the new version, and I’m now working on the newest draft every day in the late morning.

What has surprised me, though, is how much more these nine thousand words contain than the first nine thousand of the previous draft.  The world feels more vibrant, more alive and more real than it did in other versions.  The more I’ve written about it, the more I’ve known about it; and now that I come to write this next version, what I know and understand about the world I’ve been writing has filtered in.  That’s been an unexpected benefit, which has nothing to do with why I decided to rewrite in the first place.

An addendum on versioning…
Although I do abandon old versions in terms of continuing to write them, I never throw any of my writing away.  I keep every version I write as a back-up, and if I hit a passage I feel I can use an older block of writing for, I pull it out and drop it in.  I have twenty-three old version files for this story, and while it’s the fourth major rewrite of it, I have passages in this one that are directly taken from or rewritten based on passages in the older versions.  The challenge, of course, is remembering what’s in those old drafts, and if I’m after a specific passage, which one it belongs to!  That said, of the current draft, perhaps fifteen percent of it I have already been able to lift from old drafts, and I expect to continue to lift more as the writing progresses.