Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Revising… from scratch?


The Labor Till Labor Day dare continues! My progress is very slow, but I still have high hopes of reaching my goals by the end of the month.

The trouble is, instead of “revising” the first four chapters of my novel, I’m trying to rewrite them from scratch. I’m throwing out every single word in the first draft. Most of the ideas remain the same, just rearranged and tweaked to better set the rest of the book in motion.

I knew I’d be rewriting these chapters. In my mind, I’ve given myself until August 15th to deal with them. The second half of the month is reserved for revising the other 16 chapters.

(Eep. When I say it like that, it sounds close to impossible! Nevertheless, that’s the goal.)

Progress is incredibly slow on these chapters. During the first draft, I gave myself permission to suck. But this is the second draft now, and even though I’m writing wholly new words, I do not feel the same freedom to suck. These words need to be the right ones. I feel a lot of pressure every time I sit down to write.

What I need to do is give myself the same freedom I had on the first draft. It’s not like the second draft will be the last one, for goodness’ sake! It’s not the end of the world if these chapters suck… hopefully they’ll be a little closer to what I want, and hopefully the rest of the book will be a lot closer.

What do you guys think? Does this ever happen to you? Do you handle a “page one rewrite” with the same freedom of a first draft, or do you expect it to be much better and cleaner?

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • Well dear heart, I can tell you I revise my first chapters a lot – as you know! Sometimes the sparkle that kicks in during the 3rd and 4th chapter isn't there the first time for the first few…you'll get it. Do give yourself permission to suck. It'll get better because you continually get better! Love you! Miss you!


    • I have always admired your ability to revise. You are a goddess! And damn, woman, I miss you, too. :)

  • It's a tough choice. There have been times I know the chapter just doesn't work and needs to be redone or cut completely. But it's hard for me to start over entirely. The early chapters do get a lot of revising, because those seem to be where one is fiddling with the tone, voice, the way the characters come across, and all that. I would say, those times I have gone back and tried to do a pure rewrite of the initial pages or chapters, I still take a lot of the lines, feelings and scenarios that were originally there. Just put them to different words. I enjoy revising, oddly enough, but throwing everything out is painful.

    • Yes, I think the early chapters are particularly ornery exactly because of tone, voice, etc. So important!

      I really wish I could get to the point where I thought revising was fun. I'm actually looking forward to getting past these first four chapters, because I do think I'll enjoy the process more when I'm just fiddling instead of starting over. That will be my reward for making it through these first four chapters…

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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