The dilemma – to edit or to re-write?

I never understood why an author would EVER choose to completely rewrite their book.  But like many things in life, you learn as you go forward and do it yourself, despite what advise you have heard in the past.  And me, oh silly me, here is another area that I am strongly looking at my previous misconceptions and thinking to myself, who knew?  Apparently not me.

The problem it seams is that the WIP has become an unwieldy mass of too many threads and I am not sure exactly which one I am following to the finish line.  All of them I hope, but it seams to me like I have dropped a few along the way and need to go back and pick them up like dropped stitches to sew this thing into a whole.

I have a cast of characters who all want different things, but only one POV.  I think I have a solid revolving point for it all, but well all I can really tell you is that drafting is messy work.  Really really messy work.

I am at the point right now where I can see things that need to be fixed.  My opening scene needs to be rewritten.  I need to go back and weave in my supporting characters’ stories more.  I am not at the editing stage yet, but I am starting to make notes to myself in random areas of my manuscript for fixing.

And then there is this idea, of what would happen if I re-wrote it and took it in a similar but different direction?  What would happen if I cut a whole whack load of unwieldy characters at the beginning?  I would loose some of the depth I had intended on weaving in and fixing on my round of edits, but then would I have a much cleaner novel.  Less demands, more singular purpose.

What I really need to do is reach the ending.  Reach it and see if it works.  See where it is going.  There have been a LOT of Aha! moments in this writing thing.  A lot of cringe worthy moments too (my spelling is atrocious, and um I tend to do talking heads very well).

Right now the advice I keep telling myself though is to reach the end.  Cross this finish line, and afterwards we will worry about the next goal.  Get something to work with, find out what does work and what doesn’t then adventure onto the next stage.

My questions though for you is this:

How do you know when to edit or re-write?

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