Monday, September 7, 2015

Writing Series: Major Rewrites

Writing a novel is hard. Editing a novel is hard. Going back and rewriting a novel? Well, that can be heartbreaking.
When I queried my first novel, the overwhelming response I got back from agents and editors was "not enough conflict." As I looked it over (for the millionth time), and decided that they were all correct, I was faced with a choice: Scrap the novel (except for premise and characters) and rewrite it, or move on to something new.
I chose to work on something new, a much stronger novel with a lot more conflict (I learned from that first one!). But now, as I'm moving on to something new yet again, that old first novel continues to niggle at the back of my mind.
People love the premise.
Your characters are really unique.
But then I respond with, "So. Much. Work." And the little voices die down.
You see, I love that novel. It's my first book child. The thought of ripping it apart and changing it hurts. Part of me can see how much stronger it could be; the other part isn't willing to change it because in the end I might not love it as much.
The decision to rewrite a novel is about taking a risk. Is it really worth it? Will the work pay off? What if I can't actually make it better?
So for me, I have decided to keep that novel in a drawer. If I ever land an agent, I will probably bring it up with her to get an expert opinion on whether or not it's worth the work to revise it. But for now it sits in my computer, patiently waiting for the day when I run out of other ideas and have nothing else to write.
Do you have experience with completely overhauling a novel? Was it good, or bad? What convinced you to do it? I'd love to hear from you.


  1. The manuscript I submitted to my agent came back with something similar: love the concept, but it's just not working. Needs more conflict. I have been struggling to retrofit since her comments came back, and it really is a struggle. I may have to tear it down and start over, but I'm not looking forward to it.

  2. I started a major rewrite on my first novel while querying the second, and then got a contract for the 2nd (Crow's Rest) that forced me to put my first book aside. Was just about to dive back into it, when I was given a tight deadline to CR #2, so I've been working on that instead. But that first book whispers to me at bedtime...

  3. Spent 5+ years, 2+ years querying, and all my beta readers thought it was a great story. Now I have two books coming out in 2016, but I KNOW, one day I'll bring that first MS out of hibernation, reread and see what my fresh eyes see at that time. I still love my first novel. :) I may try writing in another tense or POV when that time comes.

  4. ... the 5+ years was the time I spent writing it.


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