ISWG March Post

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March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?


I have a trilogy that I started when I was 12 and finished when I was 27. Each book runs in the neighborhood of 100,000 words. I’d like to think that it shows determination and ambition and an “I CAN do it!” thing, if not actual skill.

See, the writing isn’t awesome and the plot is weak and to rebuild it into something … “better” would be more herculean than it’s worth.

I know, because between ages 27-30, I tried my hand at editing it. EVERYONE says you should do a once over before submission to an agent, so that’s what I did. Repeatedly.

I learned a lot from that editing period. POV. Plot holes. It’s vs. Its. Overdone tropes. Italics. Purple prose. Excessive description. Slicing scenes. Must do more better.

I kept writing and rewriting and writing and rewriting and then a new story came barging in and I lost track of the old trilogy until about 2 years ago.

So I re-read it.

And cringed. A lot.

The effort was there, but I had to face facts – these manuscripts were DOA. There are some gleaming bits of usefulness that can be recycled elsewhere – whole scenes I can lift out and tweak slightly to fit my current work. Concepts, quirky characters, world details.

But the best I think these first three manuscripts will ever be is evidence that I CAN finish a project, dammit.

And organ donation.

Check out the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to see more writers dish about their concerns, their solutions to various problems, or just general biblioophobia.




About kattywampusbooks

A SAHM with delusions of literacy.
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3 Responses to ISWG March Post

  1. We’ve all got those manuscripts tucked away somewhere that are best left where they are. If at least you learned something from it, and even better can recycle parts of it, then you’re doing really well!


  2. fpdorchak says:

    Ha, oh, have I, Kattywampusbooks!

    As C.D. says above, some mss are best left dead. My first ms was like that. But for the past couple years I’ve been revisiting all my old short stories. I’ve posted a year’s worth on my blog, as close to their original format as possible, and now I’m taking the better of *those* and heavily editing/reworking them and putting them into a short story collection I plan on releasing this Hallowe’en.

    I’ve also taken the better of my novel mss and also published those.

    So—yes—it can be done! Of my novel mss, I have 4 or 5 full and one or two unfinished works that I do not plan on releasing…though, if I wanted to put in a *massive” amount of work maybe two of those could be made publishable…but I’m just not interested in doing that. In fact it’s exhausting just thinking about doing that, given what I know that effort to be!

    But it’s good to revisit your efforts from your past…it can be cathartic, but also reaffirming. That you are doing better. that maybe you’d also done well in the past. If nothing else it shows how you’ve advanced as a writer, as you say—you discovered all kinds of cool things! But don’t live in the past, and keep moving forward…in whatever way that manifests. I love having gotten back into short stories! I’d really missed it! I love being able to explore stories that are, perhaps, a little edgier and different than my novels. I love the short form! I almost can’t even imagine going back to novels—when while I’d been writing novels I’d thought the reverse!

    Life is strange. Roll with it. PLAY.

    I wish you the best, KWB!


  3. pjlazos says:

    Oh my, you are very brace to take on that project. I have trouble reading what I wrote five years abo let alone a decade and a half. Good for you to have a go at it!😉


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