Step Back, Go Forward — Rewrite, Republish

How logical is it to temporarily abandon all the WIPs I should be working on to revise and republish a novel I wrote four years ago? A novel that has sold very few copies. Not very logical. But who said writers are always logical? Privileged Lives and Other Lies is one of those close-to-the-writer’s-heart novels that ‘s completely ignored by readers. A darling, that if the writer has any sense, should be killed. I’d guess every writer has at least one of those. They’re usually works that make you cringe when you look back at them — badly written or just an incredibly bad idea, but still sopping up the writer’s affection.

But the idea behind Privileged Lives is a good one. It’s science fiction with a lot of interesting themes running through it. And rereading it after four years, I have to say it isn’t that badly written. Not great, but not too bad. I can say that objectively because I have such a bad memory that coming back to it after so long means that I read it almost as a stranger would. Did I really write that? I don’t remember that part at all. That scene is really well done.

But… It’s been a bomb, and at least one of the reasons is its terrible cover, one of the very first I designed, all on my own. My not knowing much about categories didn’t help it much, either. Come to find out, thanks to Dusk Peterson, that it would fit perfectly in the Young Adult category.

But what about the writing? More typos than I would allow these days, even if it isn’t a hideous number. In spite of being 94,000 words long, there are plot points that need more development, including background, and a few not-too-serious continuity problems that would trip up a careful reader. Worst of all, the last chapter is skinny, and I can see why one reviewer said the book ended too abruptly. Bottom line: it’s a decent novel that could be a good novel.

So that’s my goal: turn my poor, neglected decent novel into a good, maybe even an excellent one. I’ve learned a lot in four years, maybe enough to save my darling from oblivion.



6 thoughts on “Step Back, Go Forward — Rewrite, Republish

  1. I definitely feel this way about a lot of my old projects! They maybe have good premises, but the writing/plotting needs a lot of work. I get sudden urges to return to old projects even if I’m already working on a million other things. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually get around to finishing all those unfinished/unedited projects, haha. Good luck with revising/republishing!

  2. Yes, if a story is basically good, why not take advantage of what you’ve learned since you wrote it? Of course, my timing is lousy, but I’ve never let that stand in my way. Plus, I’d really like to find out if a new version (and cover) can make a difference in getting readers.

  3. 94,000 words is a lot of blood, sweat and tears to throw away. Think of all those hours spent putting words on paper/screen. Look at all the most famous and best selling authors who struggled to get published but persevered and finally triumphed. A novel isn’t just words, it’s a part of you; living and breathing. Everybody and everything deserves a second chance. So why not this?
    Good luck with it

  4. Thanks, Steve. It *is* a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but if I’d had to admit that it wasn’t worth saving, I would have unpublished the original edition and trashed it, and then hunted down every scrap on my computer. Sometimes, that’s what we have to do, no matter how painful it is.

  5. I have one of those – loved the characters and the setting. People told me that after the first third, they couldn’t put it down. No agent would touch it, though I got some nice rejection letters. So I set it aside (way back before the turn of the century), and I intend to go back one day.

    However, in the meantime the biggie hit me all of a piece, and I’m still working on that one. Published the first volume of three I split it into – learning all that SP stuff in between – and I’m not doing anything else until Books 2 and 3 are finished.

    Not all trunk novels are junk. Most of them do require a fair amount of work – only the writer can decide if it’s worth the time and effort to bring old work up to current standards.

    I admire that you got it all the way to published, because that means that you’ll be far ahead when you’ve finished reediting and getting a better cover. And it can’t be nearly as much work as starting something from scratch.

    1. I hope you find the time to get your trunk novel out and reworked. I thought it would be totally embarrassing to reread mine because I’ve learned so much since I wrote it. It was a relief to find that it really wasn’t that bad. And I’m actually enjoying the rewrite.

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