Recently I have been inspired to edit SHIFT
to try and find within it some semblance of a manuscript that others would find enjoyable (right now it’s pretty messy, the result of several years of rapidly changing styles). But I’ve struggled with it ever since I finished the story, because I simply didn’t know what to do with all that old garbage from so long ago. Wading through it is like trying to cross a swamp; the end is hard to see. I lose sight of where I’m going and what I’m trying to accomplush. The facts become blurred because I spend so much time concerning myself with each sentence. The result is like a jamboree in my head, and I only just get into the first chapter or two when I find myself so confused and discouraged that I give up.
And yet the story is still there just as it was when I wrote it.
How am I supposed to anneal the story? How to make it solid and polished to the point that others will get from it what I want them to get from it?
Originally I planned to cut out those first few chapters entirely and rewrite them to match what I need now, but when I took a closer look at them I said to myself, No way! There’s too much in there that’s still good, and changing that will be losing the feel with which I wrote it.
So then what do I do? Struggle through it? Take it line by line? Err, the thought is pretty depressing; it’s a helluva lot of work, and I need something solid to go on: I need to know all the facts.
There’s good point: it’s not just my style that’s changed; it’s the facts too. And the only way to correct the facts is to know them solid and go over each one at a time (also a lot of work). My biggest problem then is that I don’t know all the facts well enough. It’s been far too long since I wrote them.
After tedious amounts of discouragement, I finally decided to trying starting at the last chapter, not the first–a novel idea! What’s the point of that? Facts: plain and simple; facts. And it works, let me tell ya! When you got a good, solid base on the facts, you can get a lot farther. And I know now how I want it to look, sound, and feel because I know where I’m going. The climax is the foremost thing in my head. (You can’t tell the journey without the end, because everything culminates to one single point, and that point is what will make or break the entire story.)
So DUH, of course start at the back!
I was curious to know if I was the first person to try this, so I went to my trusty friend Google to find out. And as it turns out, I’m not. Maybe there are tons of people that edit backwards, maybe not, but Marie Dees for sure thought of it before I did. Here’s what she wrote on the subject. It’s good to know that I’m not crazy, that there is at least one other person who finds it useful.
Give it a try! You may be surprised.