Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ripping out Stitches and Rewriting Chapters

I've got two projects going right now. One is my current WIP that I'm polishing up, the other is a quilt I am in the process of hand quilting.

Last week I started on one of the corners of the quilt. Now, I know you have to quilt from the center out, so that you don't end up with wrinkles and puckering, and I am doing that. This section of the quilt was the next thing out from the center to work on and I didn't think it mattered where in the triangle I started, so I started from one end.

After a couple of hours of quilting I realized I had a bit of puckering going on. I looked at what I'd already quilted and decided I didn't want to rip it out, so I would just make a few adjustments and all would be fine.

I continued in that vein as I quilted on and off for the rest of the week. On Saturday I got to the other side of the triangle and realized that the amount of puckering had become so great that I couldn't do anything other than rip it all out and try again. So that's what I did.

It's difficult to see hard work ripped out but sometimes it's necessary to make a project work out.

Which brings me to my WIP.

I joke that I have had so many iterations of the first chapter for this story that I could make a book just on first chapters. And just when I thought I had it right, feedback from trusted sources told me there was still something amiss.

So I opened up a new document and started chapter one again.

Because, as hard as it is to see hard work deleted, sometimes that is what is necessary to make a story work.


  1. Anyone who keeps thier original Chapter 1 intact is not being honest with themselves. I am close to finishing a first draft and I KNOW I will be rewriting Chapter 1 (and a LOT more)!

  2. Owww... it hurts! But afterwards, everything is SO much better. Good job!

  3. When I was writing research papers in college & grad school, I would write a first paragraph, knowing I'd scrap the whole thing after the paper got written. I teach my kids to do the same. It's just part of the process. Hope your WIP goes well!

  4. That's what Joyce Sweeney told me to do too. She told me to start with a clean sheet. And yes, it was hard but you know what? It did work. Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to just delete and start again.

  5. Rewrites are an essential part of writing, it's true. Ripping out stitches in a quilt - not quite as essential. I'll probably have to work through that chapter another time - hopefully I won't have to undo any more quilting.

  6. I don't know, Christine. I think ripping out stitches in a quilt are just as essential as deleting pages and pages of writing. And for the same reason!

    I'm on a third rewrite of a WIP. This morning I unwrote 3000 words. Needed to be done.

  7. Yes, it hurts to let our beautiful words go. After who knows how many rewrites, the right words finally are there. I've never tried quilting, but have a couple my mother made.

  8. For me it is not about replacing beautiful words with new beautiful words. It's about tightening the plot. Hacking out excess. Improving the story flow. First drafts usually needs tons O work.