How do I Recover from Big Mistakes.

I'm starting to feel like Arcana Magi Main Series is not working out as I have planned. In terms of storytelling I feel like rushing to the end to get it out of the way and try writing another alternate universe for Arcana Magi, this time getting it right. True practice makes perfect, but the direction that I wanted to take Arcana Magi is not panning out. This story arc is about getting the remaining two Sentinels together. Bringing all four Sentinels together was supposed to go for ten chapters. But since I sacrificed my writing style in those first ten chapters in favor of writing under 3500 words, this arc is now unnecessarily long. I could rush the last two in with chapter 14, but I don't know if that's a good idea.


It really stinks because I really felt for this series. Now I ruined it. That's not to say I can't write another Arcana Magi Series with completely different characters set in alternate universe, but this one I wrote was supposed to be the Main Series.


I don't know what to do. I don't want to cancel it because than readers won't trust me as a writer, and I don't want to rush it because then won't trust as a good writer.


Have any of you faced something like this before?


The basic writing advice I've heard is that if you know how the first half of your story should have gone, but it didn't, and you know how you want the second half of your story to go, you should include a little note along the lines of 'sorry guys, first half of the story needs editing, here are the new facts you'll need in order to understand what's happening in half two, where I get things right.'


And then get on with writing the story you want to write. There's really nothing wrong with drafts and revisions, as long as you deliver some interesting content to your readers. They'll forgive edits.


I know I've said this before on here, so forgive me if it sounds familiar: rebooting was the best thing I ever did for me, for the story, and for the fans.


If you are feeling this conflicted, and dissatisfied with the story, you may wish to consider a rewrite. It can suck, as you feel like you're losing all the time you put into the current version, but if at the end, you have a version you are much happier with, it's worth the investment.








There was a point late in writing Book 2 of STREET where I was forcing out every scene, and it was hurting the story as well as me as a writer. I eventually gave in and did something I never wanted to do; delete half the book and rewrite everything from the point where I lost my way.


And you know what? It was the right thing to do. The story is better for it and I've regained much of my confidence as a writer. That's what it's all about, no matter what your public might think.


Regards,

Ryan


This is great help everyone. I have decided to thread the needle and get my last two characters in for Chapters 14 and 15. If I pull this off, then maybe I will be able to settle the story down, and start an entirely new arc from scratch without sacrificing so much of what was already written. If all else fails, I'll finish the story with an ending and re-write the first half from scratch to condense the story and make it better. List out where I went wrong in the writing and the next serial I write, I'll avoid those mistakes.


Just to add my own perspective, this kind of problem is precisely why I don't start posting a story until I've finished it and gone through at least three drafts. My rough drafts are really weak, and they have major problems with a lack of detail, or with balancing dialogue with action. And if it turns out that a story isn't working out, I can drop the whole thing and start from scratch without worrying how the audience will react.


I'm sure it's too late to consider as an option for this story, but maybe on your next arc, you might consider writing the whole story, and then going back to post it in sections. If you try it this way, you're guaranteed never to get a late post or overrun your buffer.


I also finish and polish before posting, like Zoe. I'm always realizing something midway through the book like, "Dammit, they should really be SISTERS!" Then I have to go back and rewrite major portions of the story make everything work. :)


However, I do think having to post the updates can be a good motivator, and as I've been having trouble with motivation myself recently, (I haven't finished a book since last August and have started three) I can see why the model is appealing.


My advice is going to run counter to all the previous advice posted, but everyone writes differently and there's no telling which of us have a similar creation/thinking method to yours.


I've got three books of PK (one still ongoing but almost finished) out as serials. The first half of Book One sucks, and I'm willing to bet that the first half of everyone's Book One sucks, whether it's a series or a standalone, or a print novel or a serial or what. When you start writing (for the first time or after a years-long hiatus), that first 50,000 words or so is you learning how to walk/swim/ride a bike. It's not all pretty.


However, once you learn how to ride a bike, it's a pretty smooth ride from then on out. You might hit a few bumps or have an unexpected tumble every now and then, but it's occasional, no-big-deal stuff. The thing is, when you post all of your training materials online, they're out for everyone to see. This is the state of PK right now - Book One is a bit of a mess. I get about 300 reads per current (third book) chapter within the first two weeks, though, so I must have been doing something right amidst all the horrors of that learning experience.


What my readers tend to appreciate is that I keep going and they always have something more to read. It's a serial - the big pull is not how perfect the prose is, but what happens next. The pull is the story, the writing comes second. I learn as I go and I take my knocks.


As to a story shifting while you write it... that happens a lot to me. I just pretend I planned it all along. I've had sidestory arcs expand to much longer than I planned them, characters introduce themselves out of the blue and hijack the story to where they wanted it to go, and unexpected pacing elements. For instance, one scene refused to go any farther, and so I ended it before I expected it to end. Then I wrote the scene that wanted to be written, which had different characters and was a country away from the first scene. After that one was done, I was able to go back to the first. Beforehand I would have thought it was a bad idea to split up that first scene with another scene in the middle - after the fact, when I read what I had done, it seemed just right. Shifting a reader elsewhere really does up the tension and keep them on their toes, and the change in pace helped the story from dragging out too much. Subconsciously, I knew this. Consciously, I wanted to do it the boring way. Subconsciously, I am apparently a better writer than I am consciously.


It sounds like your biggest frustration has been in restraining your chapter length. If you have a natural tendency to pace with longer chapters, then write how you naturally write. I know a lot of people say to keep weblit short, but honestly a chapter's gonna grip someone more if it's written in the way it should be. The same goes with stories overall. Maybe the lesson your writing is trying to teach you now is to go with what you feel like writing, not with what logic tells you. So my suggestion is to just write the story from this point on how you feel it should be written, with possibly some transitional chapters to make it flow better. Call the first part Part One, call the second Part Two. Plenty of books are divided into parts. If your format is consistent within each part, then it should be fine. Maybe the introductory part's short chapters will reflect the fact that it is introductory - now that things have gotten started, the story settles into longer chapters.


If your story wants to shift mid-story, I say LET IT - it's your job to make the transition seem on purpose, though. A re-start may be good for you, but it also may be a better idea to finish a story first before rewriting it. I think you'll learn a lot more. Also, in my experience a lot of authors want to scrap everything halfway through a story and just start over. It's a normal part of the writing process, and it's frustrating. I have it happen about three times per book - after the first 30,000, after the first 60,000, and after the first 80-90,000. My books tend to finish up at 110,000 words, so I basically do the "OH NO EVERYTHING SUCKS" flail at quarter intervals. Char's my editor - she's so used to this happening that she starts expecting it at a certain point.


Irk: "Wait, I always do this at right about this stage of a novel, don't I?"

Char: "Yeah, I was waiting for it. :D "


Neil Gaiman has a similar conversation with his agent for every book that he writes - he forgets it afterwards, every time. And so do I.


Anyway, in conclusion, I really suggest just plowing forward and seeing what you can make of it from this point. Stories do unexpected things, and I find that the more tricks they pull on an author, the more interesting they are to an audience. If you consider yourself the first reader, then it starts to become entertaining. (Except at the 30,000-word intervals. Oh gods.)


As a sort of visual metaphor for some of the above points:


This is One Piece in 1997, a pirate-themed serial planned by the writer to last around 5 years.

This is One Piece in 2010 It is currently around the half-way point of the story. The author attributes this to his having too much fun writing it, and getting sidetracked with side-stories and flashbacks.


One Piece is the most popular comic in Japan, and one of the most popular in the world.


Go figure.


I just wanted to chime in to point out that I agree thoroughly with the above poster (Edit: Er, two above--I'm talking about irk); my own experiences have led me to believe the best route is to just keep plowing forward and trying to have fun with the narrative--a mistake you made early on might later turn out to be just the right move.


One thing I've noticed--when writing, I'll often come up with connections I did not expect to make ("Oh, crap, I totally accidentally foreshadowed this back in Chapter 3, didn't I?"). As a result, I've tried to train myself to create subtle hooks without knowing what those hooks really are, or where they'll lead--subtle enough for a reader to forget (in case I never use them), but interesting enough to remember should they be called upon. I mention this only because it's often possible to turn what feels like a big mistake into a really interesting hook--you just need to re-evaluate a little and adjust your sails accordingly.


EDIT: I should hasten to add, I personally failed to take my own advice (and I'm not a published writer anyway, so it's not like you should be giving my advice a great deal of weight) and rewrote pretty much all of Arcadia Snips when I was more than half way through it. It worked really well in that case--but it helped that the book was on my computer, not on the web, so I could afford to do that. In your case, my advice would be to just blunder forward--if the story isn't going in the direction you expected it to, just let it go (so long as you're still enjoying it).


Thanks everyone. After having posted up Chapter 14 and assessing(SP?) my situation, I decided not to go to the extremes and leave everything currently as is. After I get Chapter 15 up next week, I'll take a short hiatus so I can analyze what I wrote so far. List what I had not covered that I had presented in earlier chapters to cover plot holes in the next arc. I figure this is the best way to do this.


I'm already back to my true writing style. One person on Fictionaut, commented on my latest chapter about how he liked my writing style. Perhaps sahorteneing the chapter in the beginning was why my writing style felt flat for some readers because I sacked most of my style in favor of 2500 to 3500 word chapters. (That's a whole other debate)


Nevertheless, I need my comfort zone when writing my stories.