Several weeks ago I mentioned how I had stopped working on the current chapter of my first draft to go back and revise some earlier chapters. I know you’re not supposed to do this, but after battling a chapter for a while and not seeing much progress, I find that going back to those earlier chapters (which are usually in much better shape) helps reenergize me again.
The question, of course, is what happens when you go back to an earlier chapter and discover that it’s just as wretched as the chapter you abandoned? So much for reenergizing.
And that’s what I’ve been struggling with the past two weeks. Chapters 10, 11, and 13 were fine. They still need a lot of work, but I could show them to someone and they’d be able to figure out what was going on. Chapters 12 and 14 were steaming piles of crap. It was quite the shock.
Why were these chapters so much worse than I remembered? Simple. Back when I wrote them, I hadn’t yet begun reading about scenes and structure. Now that I’ve read James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure, along with a good heaping of blog posts on the subject, I realize I have a lot of revising to do.
That’s the problem with learning while you write.
Question: What writing technique have you learned in the middle of a manuscript that made you want to go back and do it all over?