Revamping Old Work?

I have a manuscript I believe in. It has compelling characters, a rich backstory (introduced in snippets), providing details and depth to the whole. There’ intrigue and romance, forbidden love, danger, I love it. Here’s the problem: I wrote it nearly two years ago. I just heard every writer out there sigh collectively. You know. You’ve been there. It’s tough.

The problem: I want to shine it up and put it out there. It’s good material.

Bigger problem: It ain’t good writin’

I’ve learned so much since I set out to tell this story. The voice was always strong. The characters are great too. The writing, you know, the words that string it all together….suck…like a lot.It’s riddled with extra words and bad habits. Replete with stinkiosity.

I must decide. Is it salvageable? Is it worth the time involved to rip out the yuk? I’m really struggling with this because I think the answer is “Yes. You have something here. You just weren’t ready to write it then.” This is simultaneously thrilling and exasperating because I don’t want to create a huge time suck for myself. I mean, I have THREE  kids, two I homeschool and one potty training. Time is an issue. However, as a writer, some stories get us and won’t let us go. This is one  of those. So, it looks like I’ve answered my question while writing this post. I’m giving my old manuscript a shine, devoting the time and seeing what happens. I think I’ll be glad to see it finished.

Anyone have a story like this? Are you still deciding? How’s it turn out for you? Thoughts?

12 comments to Revamping Old Work?

  • Yes, I have a couple, actually. One in particular that I really believe in. I’m just too bogged down with new ideas to want to invest the time in an old story. But as you say, we have to believe in it… nobody else is going to, that’s for sure.

    I say go for it! I plan to rewrite mine after my WIP is complete.

  • I hear ya. I’ve got a complete one in the drawer, and a partial sitting next to it. I think I’ve got something with the complete, but it needs to percolate in the back of my head for awhile longer. I’m too busy trying to birth my urban fantasy and historical at the moment to think about tackling ye olde epic fantasy again.

    But you go! Whip that manuscript into shape. Whip it good.

  • PK! It’s good to hear I’m not alone. I knida thought I wasn’t, but its good to hear. We write so many things, one of them is bound to speak to us – loudly, right? LOL THanks for the encouragement!

    A3Writer! I have so many things I’ve started and lost interest in, then a few I completed that never really made the grade. This one wants to. LOL. You sound alot like me writing in different genres. I am very guilty of writing the stories that come to mind and they rarely fit into a nice neat little one genre package :)

    Thanks guys! And good luck on your WIPs!!

  • Maggie’s been waiting for about 4 years for me to dust her off and set her caravan rolling…poor girl. Me thinks this afternoon I’ll open her pages and say hello…thanks for the push I needed!

  • Ang

    I do not have a completed MS that needs a good polish, but for all the reasons you mentioned and more, I have a WIP that I’ve been dragging along for far too long. As Sandra noted, thanks for the push! I need to carve out time to finish it.

  • If this story has you — if it has something that will not allow you to set it aside — then rewrite it. I think it sounds pretty clear that you believe in it — and that’s wonderful!

    I might be a bit earlier on that road. I have a book I’ve finished — that I believe in, but I suspect — I fear! — there might be a problem with it and I just. can’t. see. it. I’m also back in another book finished a couple of years ago that doesn’t need revising so much as it needs to be completely rewritten. Gah. Such a daunting task!

  • I definitely know how this is, Julie. While (mostly) working on three different WIPs (two of them are mostly ‘thinking about’ but that’s still work! haha) I’ve fiddled with a fourth one, “Read To Me” which, while it’s a cool concept, (boy gets transported INTO the stories he reads and must figure out how to control said time-travel. …Oh, and there’s the whole best friend goes into a coma and the only way he feels he can interact with her is through reading to her at her bedside [hence the title :) ] there’s something REALLY missing from it.

    I don’t know if it’s my motivation, or if it’s the storyline that doesn’t quite mesh together because it could be two separate stories, or if I just haven’t found that magic vein. But it’s an idea, and I’m keeping it for later. The heart and soul’s there, but the words aren’t. :)

  • Sandra! You hooked me with Maggie! Get her caravan rolling? What’s this about?? Nicely done! Huzzah!

    Ang! Keep writing! Keep writing! Don’t stop! Go! Go! Go! ;)

    Francesca! Thanks, I really do love the story…seems I simply MUST get it shiny!I’m on task now!

    Zachary! Sounds like you have an awesome idea (or two lol) going there! I hope you’ll stop back and tell us more when it all comes together for you!

    Thanks everyone!! I’m all wound up and motivated now! Yey!

  • Yep! That’s kinda the story of my current WIP. It had some major issues. But it’s got a grip on me. This was already on my mind today with Twitter, but have you read one of Mandy Hubbard’s posts about how she didn’t give up on Prada and Prejudice? She did a rewrite from a blank page.

    I took that kind of angle with my rewrite, I put the old docs in a subfolder and took my time thinking through the possibilities, letting go of the old. I’ve worked out many plot issues, character issues and am looking forward to tackling some voice issues when I open that new, blank document! (um, AIEE!! Okay, I’ll try to relax now.)

  • Julie,
    Go for it! If you’re feeling you can’t let this one go, then don’t. I’m in a similar boat with my very first novel. It’s been through several revisions, but it needs at least one more. The only problem, I currently have one manuscript out in the world (querying), one getting ripped apart by my critique partners, one waiting to be polished, and one currently be written. My plate is full, but I know one day soon I will tackle this novel and it’s going to be fantastic. So don’t give up on this one. If you believe in it, do it.

  • If you believe in it, it’ll be better than anything that you don’t. I’ve done that exact thing several times, and though I haven’t gotten a bite yet from an agent, I have a number of personal comments after a full was requested, so it’s not a waste of time.

    My suggestion, crazy as this sounds, is to retype the whole thing. Seriously. If your writing has improved globally, then as you retype it, you will automatically make the millions of micro corrections that change blah to something wonderful, and these are things you will not, cannot, see when trying to edit the page.

    Good luck.

  • Heather Russell

    So with you on this! I stopped years ago looking at my old work because it always made me feel sick to read it, but there are two stories that just keep cropping back up in my imagination. One of them I might have time for when I’m 90, but I have been considering dragging the other back out and seeing if it is worth all the hold it has on me. You have inspired me to go ahead and do it; the worst that can happen is that it’ll really suck!

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