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What would you do?

March 2, 2013


Hey Ya’ll,

I got a small problem and I could use some advice. I have two choices concerning my manuscript. I have been reviewing some passages that I first wrote almost two years ago. Quite frankly, the writing is not very good. I knew that back then and today after two years of additional experience, I am ashamed to have allowed (forced) my parents to read it. They did because that is their job, but I know that no professional would read past paragraph one.

Last September, I did a complete re-write of the first third of the novel, about 25K words. That was necessary because the story needed to be re-done. I am very happy with the story now although the writing still needs a professional edit. This new opening was submitted to the “Flogging The Quill” site in December. Ray was tough on the word choices and I had several grammar issues, but he liked the story of the first page. I took that as an unqualified success.

My question for you guys is this. What should I do with the other two-thirds? Do I try to fix it up or should I just do a complete re-write of the story?

For all my writing buddies out there, I am looking for your advice. I know several of you have been in the situation and I would like to know what you did. I think the time investment will be about the same. My goal is to have this beast finished by August. There is a writer’s conference in Nashville and I want to attend with a book in hand or at least completed and ready to be pitched.

My life clock is ticking and I have things to do. I need to move to Hawaii before the next winter, I am tired of flying at night, and I am weary of working for the man. I am ready to be a writer, and live the writing lifestyle of sitting on the beach, watching the waves roll in while I complain to my wife that I have to walk all the way to the mailbox to collect another royalty check.


(The only thing missing is me)

All ideas and comments are welcome. If anyone wants to take my garbage and turn it into gold, I would be open to letting you. Just as long as I still get the royalty checks. Ha ha. Keep on rocking!

From → writing

  1. My experience in the publishing world is that of a dog flying an airplane (not sure if real analogy?) but I would say to read what you have and if it fits with the first re-write then majorly re-vamp it and make the writing awesome. If it doesn’t fit with your 25k re-worked segment then scrap it completely and start where your 25k left off. It sucks to have to throw stuff out but hey…it makes room for better things

    • Thanks for stopping in Jacob. Some people have accused me of flying like a dog so I guess I resemble that remark. From a story point, the re-write mates up with the existing story. I don’t mind throwing out the final 2/3, because most of it will get used in the re-write. It is more of how will I approach the edit. Just build a new car with the existing parts or patch-up the car and hope it all looks good at the end. I am leaning towards re-writing.

      • Haha, in the end you just have to do what you, as the author, feel is right. No one can make that decision for you…no matter how much you may want them to 🙂

  2. I say you do both. First finish the last two thirds. Read your story as a whole. Print it, spend two weeks editing and making changes. Sit down and re-type it. Good luck 🙂

    • Jeffery,

      That is what my wife says. Both. I have read the final 20K and yes it needs real help. More than a edit, it needs a re-write.

      • I forgot to thank you for your comments. You are welcome here anytime.

  3. Hey Rob,

    Welcome back from vacation! I read your return posts in my email and it seems like your family (and you) had a fantastic time—meant to get over here and say hey, but, well, you know. Busy as heck.

    Couple of questions: What do you mean when you say “rewrite?” When I first finish any piece of work (the rough draft), I do a revision, that is to say, I clean up the pace, words and phrases, holes in the story, clarity, etc.

    To me, a rewrite is a basic trashing of the story and starting from scratch. Does the new 25K first-third of your story mesh with the other two-thirds? If so, then keep it and start a revision. Is your latter two-thirds as bad as you say the first was?

    This is my process: Rough and shitty first draft. First revision. Second revision. Critique by CP’s, to include a developmental edit (this will check for structure problems), Third revision. Another CP (line and copy edits). Beta readings. Professional edits (all three types). Revision. Completed manuscript.

    Professional edits are expensive, and in looking around, have found that the first (developmental) edit is usually a flat rate. Copy and line edits are usually an hourly rate, so when reaching that point, make sure your work has as few mistakes as possible.

    Again, welcome back!

    • Swifty,

      Thanks for the kind comments about the visit to your part of the world. It was nice and yes we had a great time.

      The story does match up and while there are a few minor holes in the story, they are not the sinkholes that you guys are experiencing in Florida.

      My real problem is that my writing is terrible. Two years ago, I wasn’t a very good writer. Today I am better, but not good enough to fix that bad writing. I am nowhere near as good as you, Egg, Julie, Joe, and Karlene. You guys are pros, while I would be lucky to make the Kindergarten team. I am too cheap to spend money on a professional edit at this stage. I have some other plans that may manifest themselves soon.

      I will know when it is good enough to send out for Beta readings and you are dangerously close to being asked to be on the list.

      Thanks again for the thoughts and friendship.

  4. Rob,

    My advice to you is this: deny everything!. Say you were at home and in bed with your wife. Wait. wrong post.

    Whatever you did for the first third, which was a complete rewrite, should be done for the remainder of the book. Rewrite that thing! Make it scream! Talk dirty to it! Wait. Wrong post.

    When it’s time for a beta reader, please count me in. I owe you big time, and in about a year, I’m going to hit you up to be a beta reader for The Crossover Brand.

    Retiring in Hawaii? Why? Everything there is ugly and the weather blows. Get it? The weather blows…

    You can’t see it, but I am pure green, head to toe. And it aint from St. Patty’s day.

    • You are the man. The only mistake that I made in my life was not having you as a English teacher. You might have been able to made me want to go to class instead of skip.

      You are on the short list to read this beast when it is done. Yes I am going to re-write it and make it talk dirty.

      By the way, I am going to buy a house next to you in Hawaii and make your property value go down. It will be like the Beverly Hillbillies moving into next to the Drysdales. It will suck to be you because I am going to give the dogs a bath in the cement pond. Can’t Wait!

  5. Karlene permalink

    Rob, I am a proponent of fixing what you wrote. The first few… 1-10 drafts are always in need of fixing. You may slash, add, edit, delete, and do a variety of things to make them better.

    But while you are deciding what to do, ask yourself this:
    Do they reveal character of your protagonist? Do they move the story forward? Does each word have something to do with the plot, the character, and the story you’re trying to convey?

    Now the decision only comes to you. You know what is in those pages. It’s up to you to make them awesome.

    I hope this helps.

    • Thanks Karlene.

      It will be fixed and it will be crazy cool when it is finished. I guess the good news is that I am really on draft number 2 so I have a long way to go before you get a sample chapter at your publishing company. Until then, I am going to keep my night job.

  6. Erica permalink

    That beach photo is very, very similar to a few I took today.

    Anyway, here’s my two-bob’s worth. I think you need to ask yourself: ‘Can I write this better?’ If your honest answer is, ‘No,’ then polish up as best you can and move on, but if it’s a resounding, ‘Yes, I most definitely can write this better,’ then get on with it. Chances are, there will be a bit of both as you stumble upon scenes you’re thrilled with and scenes you cringe at. Good luck stringing it all together.

    You’ve attracted some great advice from the others. I’m taking it all in, too, so thanks.

  7. Look Erica,

    This is all your fault to start with. I know that you made those comments to force me into writing this post. Dang fighter pilot, all of you are the same thinking the world revolves around you.

    I can write it better so yes that is the determining factor. Thanks for the advice about limiting the number or ideas in a paragraph. That was one of my big problems and that is something that can be fixed. Not sure if I can get a Chipmunk post done tonight, but I am going to try.

    Thanks again for the info on Darwin, life in OZ and general being a great person.

    • Erica permalink

      Yep, zooommm…… (Catch me if you can.)

      Actually, I can’t claim that tip about focusing a sentence. I got it from John Gardner’s, ‘The Art of Fiction.’

      Not worries about the Oz info. Anytime. Thanks back to you for the Seppo insight.

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