On the first Wednesday of every month, members of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (open to anyone and full of great resources and information for writers) post their answers to a monthly prompt on their blogs.
Authors benefit from getting an insightful prompt for generating more blog content, and IWSG links all respondents, which is a way for writers to discover each other. Pretty neat!
August 2 question: Have you ever written something that afterwards you felt conflicted about? If so, did you let it stay how it was, take it out, or rewrite it?
Uhhhh…. all the time? Like maybe everything I’ve written? As for the second part of the question, what I did with it, I think the general principle is that I would rewrite until it somehow feels “done enough” and then let it stay how it was.
To zoom in a bit though to the scene level, I think I recall in a very early draft of Red Soil Through Our Fingers, there was a scene in which the protagonist Mahela takes some petty revenge against his ex-wife Sun-Hee. I removed it before the final draft, and I’m not entirely sure it was the right decision. While I don’t think it would have been out of character for Mahela to have done that, so long as he regretted it afterward, it also would have introduced another layer of complication in the plot, because he needed (and ended up getting) Sun-Hee’s help. I would have had to bring that tension to closure in some kind of morally satisfying way, or leave it unresolved and thus perhaps implicitly sully the protagonist’s character more than I intended to.
In the end, it came down to a practical publishing decision. I still think to this day the novel could have really used a few more layers of depth and side plot – it’s very linear and simple in structure. But, on the other hand, if I had kept working on it to add those layers, like the one I started but removed, I’m pretty sure I never would have gotten it out the door.
It’s easy to look back and wonder, oh I should have done this and that for an already published novel. In the end, I got it out, and it is what it is. Maybe next one will be better!