Go Back to the Beginning

One of the most frequent suggestions I give to other writers (and use for myself) when I’m stuck in the middle of a book is to go back to the beginning and figure out where I started going off in the wrong direction. Sometimes, sadly, it’s only five or ten pages into the book. Sometimes it’s 50-60 pages in.

And then–I just have to lop all the rest of the book off and start over again. I know this is strong medicine to hear, but it’s just the kindest truth I can offer you as a writer. Stop wasting time trying to fix a book that went off in the wrong direction. Go back and start writing the better book, the book you want it to be now that you understand it better.

I have literally deleted 100 or more pages of a book before. And doing that is precisely what helped me get the book published.

For instance, my first novel, The Monster In Me, originally started with the scene that is the first chapter of the book. I brought it to a writing group and a very wise friend of mine said to me–that is the last chapter of your book. Because all of the interesting things that happen to the character have already happened by the time this scene happens.

I went home and started over almost from page on, putting that first chapter last and writing the twenty-odd other chapters that led up to it. This is why I got my first contract for publication on a book, after writing 20 books that hadn’t worked. It was my courage in deciding to take the hard medicine that led to my contract, and this is me passing on the wisdom of that old friend to you.

You need to go back to the beginning and then cut everything after where the book went wrong. You need to write the better book. And you can.

Published by Mette Ivie

I'm a national bestselling author, All-American triathlete, Princeton PhD and mother of five amazing kids. And I'm here to teach you how to talk back to the brain that is telling you to quit before you fail. I'm here to up your game as a writer and as a human. I teach skills on writing, but more than that, I teach you how to take risks and write more deeply, more humanly, and to become a better human yourself.

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