Friday, 18 April 2014
Day Eighteen: Changing Focus in the Middle of the Book: What Happens When your Book Has to Be Altered Drastically? #BYBin30
Unfortunately, writing a book is not always a smooth process. There are times when, after writing many thousands of words, an author realizes that there book is not going in the right direction or an author decides that his book needs a different focus. This can happen to both fiction writers and non-fiction writers equally.
When you are writing a non-fiction book, the first thing to consider when deciding whether or not you need to change its direction or focus is where your knowledge and current writing has taken the book. If what you have already written is leaning towards the change in focus, then the change will be much easier to implement.
The second thing to consider is what your readers, those who follow your blog and those who are your target audience will be most interested in reading; is it the original content you planned for your book, or will the new direction you are feeling compelled to move in be more suitable to your readers' interests.
Another detail to take into consideration is that changing focus can mean having to do a substantial amount of new research to cover the new focus for your book. Will some of the research you have already done help you in your new direction? If so, this will help to mitigate some of the amount of new research you will need to do.
Once you have completed any new research necessary for your book's new focus, there are a couple more steps to take. First, you need to read through the information you have already written and salvage the writing that will still be useful in your book despite the direction-change. Then you need to go back through all of the selected previously-written prose and make notations where changes need to be made in order to fit it in with the new version of your book.
When you are writing a fiction novel, you might also find it necessary to change the direction you book is taking the reader. Maybe you've come up with a different, but more suitable ending, or maybe you are finding, through the process of writing your story, that one of your secondary characters is taking on a stronger roll than your main protagonist and you have decided that your secondary character needs to become the main protagonist. For whatever reason, if you are going to change the direction of your story, you need to go back and make some changes within the writing you have already completed.
If you are making a secondary character the main focus, you need to read through your book and find the scenes where you have favored the protagonist over the secondary character. If your protagonist is now going to be a secondary character, you might be able to leave some of these scenes in the story, but more of them need to have their focus shifted to the new main character.
In whatever change you are approaching for your story, there will be newly created plot holes due to the change. You will need to go back, find them and fill them in. If your ending is changing, then you need to go find any foreshadowing added in the previous writing and alter it to suit the new ending. If you are changing a main character with a secondary character, then you need to go and fix some of the interactions between both of those characters with each other and with others to suit the new story. If you are changing the point of view of the story, for example switching from 3rd person omniscient point of view to first person, then you need to make sure that there is no over sharing (through the previous omniscient view point) and add in some of your character's personal views and thoughts, while also making sure that "he" or "she" and "her" or him" in reference to your character are changed with "I" and "me," and so on.
It can be a lot of work and can significantly increase your work load when it comes to finishing your story, but, most of the time, when a writer is pulled to make these changes, it is because the changes will strengthen the story. One thing many authors do when making these kinds of changes is to keep a copy of the previous story version, just in case.