Last week was a great week writing-wise. I've announced two new projects, but these weren't the ones that I was working on. No, what caught and compelled me last week was Book 3 of The King's Swordsman.
Little tidbit of info - I actually have the books written, at least in a raw draft stage. I can see the start through to the end, and I know how it's all going to shape up.
I therefore thought it was a case of just applying what I know now to the raw drafts. The shape and direction of the stories wouldn't change, after all, right?
What I didn't know back then when I first drafted it, collided hard with what I know now. But I couldn't see a way out of the plot for Book 3 that didn't bunk all the character growth that Book 3 needs to lay out in order to progress in the series. Surely I could just... add more, right?
But what I was starting to suspect, in a creeping-dread kind of way, was that this was wallpapering over a crack.
I shored up my defence because I loved my first draft of Book 3. It was fun to write and the twists and turns surprised even me! My alpha reader got a little lost, sure, but she enjoyed it. Critique partners had lots more to say, but, perhaps that was driven by the fact that they hadn't read the earlier books.
It wasn't until a much-beloved beta gave her two cents that I had to accept it. I took out my metaphorical sledgehammer and got to work.
At first it was hard. Really hard. These are amazing scenes! They are so funny! This bit is totally necessary! I can't lose this!
But the more I deleted, the more weight felt lifted from my shoulders. The structure of the past, of the writer that I had been, wasn't what the story needed now. I had grown. The story needed that growth, and it needed room to grow. It was necessary to make that space, to delete what had come before and carve out a new path.
Once I accepted that, once I got out of my own way, once I started deleting and creating that space for something new to happen, something new did. And while it's still rough, I can tell it's going to surpass the previous version, simply because now it can.