5 Ways I Saved "The Dawn of a Hero" From the Trash Heap

Wow, that was a mouthful. But anyway, seeing as I'm coming to the end of draft four of The Dawn of a Hero, I thought I might revisit some of the things that I did to prevent myself from scrapping this little story of mine. I compiled a list of five things, though there might be more that I missed. Maybe some of these are things that will help your story!

~1. Changed POV~

This changed the entire course of this story. When I first revisited it after I wrote several other novels, I had two choices: figure out what in the world was wrong with it (something wasn't right and I couldn't figure it out) or trash it completely. 

I'm stubborn, so obviously, dumping it was out of the question until all other means of fixing it failed. After time and time of going at the draft and coming up short, I finally figured out the problem- I had the wrong POV character in this story. I wrote this book in James's POV, while the rest of the books are in Laylah's. So I set out to rewrite the entire thing and came out on the other side with a vastly improved draft. It was still pretty gross, but I was much happier with it. I could work with it. It fit the rest of the series. It wasn't as much of a failure anymore. 

~2. Eliminated characters~

I've written about this before. I had a number of characters that I took out of the story entirely. They made it hard for me to focus on developing the characters that really did matter. I spent so much time trying to get them to work, but finally decided they weren't worth keeping. Now that they're gone, I'm a much happier writer.

~3. Beefed up the villains~

I admit it: I'm not great at villains. Making them scary/believable is a challenge for me. No matter how many articles I read, I still couldn't figure out the secret. It didn't help that I wrote this story as a tween, so I hadn't yet read a lot of books and didn't know what I was looking for. Now that I'm older, I realize that a villain's personality doesn't necessarily have to be scary, but rather his motivations. So now one of my villains is actually rather amusing to me and his motivations are a bit more terrifying (though I still have some work to do in that department). And this leads me nicely to my next point...

~4. Delved into motivations~

I always struggled with villains until I wrote The Herbalist's War. When I wrote that story, I really started understanding how motivations impact the plot and overall story. When I went back and revised TDoaH, I dove into what motivated my characters, especially Laylah and Sorrus. By doing that, I was able to make him scarier, her more desperate, and the overall story improved (I think).

~5. Dumped the cliches~

I had quite a few cliches in my story. It's pathetic. I had prophesies, super 'scary' villains with useless minions, and a horrifically perfect MC. Just thinking about it makes me want to gag. Obviously, those had to go. With each draft, it seems like yet another cliche is taken out or twisted, which makes me super happy!

Now onto you! Have you ever written 'disaster' stories that needed major changes or else they'd end up in the dump? What changes did you make? Did they help? Are you able to work with your story now?


  1. I'm so excited to read the newest edit!!!!! AKSJDHFSKLDJHFLSDKJHF

    So far I haven't really written anything super dump-worthy of late...but when I dive back into Char ne Rafyt (Evone Histories) I expect to find some major headaches waiting for me. XD

    1. Squee! I hope to have it come your way around the first (I know, I said I'd get it to you several weeks ago, but #life)

      LOL, yeah! I'm sure you'll have fun with them though.

  2. I have a disaster story called "The Dragonfly Queen" with horrible characters, no real motivation, a fight with a sea monster that was tall enough to fight them on the cliffs (??) but had no reason to do so, and is so typo-infested that I can't even read it. So. There doesn't seem to be any saving that story. (Which is fine...I don't care about it anyway. XD) My story Watched needs some serious rewrites too, although that one's single biggest problem is that it needs a /plot/....(and higher stakes/a real villain, but ya know.)

    This post was so insanely helpful. Thank you!

    1. Ugh, higher stakes are my weakness. I feel like they're pretty high, but then I hear I need to go higher. So I'm still working on that.

  3. I'm trying to do this with my first book. It's a lot of work. I never thought of changing the POV.
    This was super helpful!

    1. It is a ton of work, but it definitely gets better.

      Changing the POV was the key to this story. I don't know if it'll work for every story, but if you think it will, you should definitely try it! It might help you out a lot.

  4. This is really helpful, thank you!

  5. The most dangerous time for a book is the beginning (that period of time that the WIP dangles by a thread over the trash heap). For me one of the biggest things that helped me keep writing was that I was pretty determined, and very unintentionally, I wrote the POV character off of myself. I didn't really understand that until later, but it helped so much because I felt like I went on an adventure.
    Villains are tricky... You really have got to know them like the back of your hand. I heard it said once that you will never understand why the antagonist wants to hurt the protagonist unless you understand what it is that makes the antagonist think he's the protagonist. I tend to err on the side of the antagonists that know that they are evil... and enjoy it. ;)
    Fun post!!

    1. Yes, I originally wrote my character off of myself, but she has grown into something much more than that. I really love how she's become someone on her own.

      That's definitely true! I had to really focus on what his motives were and why he thought they were good. Once I established that, I was pretty good to go.

  6. I may be using some of these tips for a few old drafts that I have sitting around!

    Wonderful post, Sarah!

    1. I'm glad you were able to find some of this helpful!


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