View Full Version : Thinking of scrapping my entire book, Advice Needed

Mr. Anonymous
06-18-2008, 07:30 AM
EDIT. Wrong board. Sorry bout this. lol. Mods feel free to delete.

Mr. Anonymous
06-18-2008, 07:40 AM
Alright, hopefully I'll post this on the right board this tim.

Ok. So I generated a lot of interest in my book through querying. However, I haven't had much success past that. Almost all of my partials were rejected (one asked for a full synopsis after seeing my first 60 pages, then rejected me). Two of my fulls were rejected. I have four still out at the moment.

So I was curious as to why I might be getting rejected. The agents gave me fairly little to work with.

"Promising, but needs work."
"Well done, but not quite right for me."
"I'm really impressed with your writing given your age, but I don't feel it's quite right for our list."
"...I just don't believe editors would feel compelled to publish it (ouch)..."

So I got two beta readers to take a look at it, hoping to get an idea of what I could do to improve.

The first one provided me with an ego boost. She seemed to really like it.

The second one pretty much hated it.

Now, I'll be the first to say that this is a subjective business. But while I didn't agree with some of the things she said, it did jar me into considering something I never had previously.

I always envisioned my series as a trilogy. Right from the beginning. But it made me think...what if I completely reimagined it? What if I condensed the whole story into one 80-100k word novel?

On one hand, it makes me want to SCREAM in frustration, because I'd have to scrap almost my entire novel (68,000 words). On the other hand, I honestly think that, if done right, it could be better for it. I have pretty much the entire summer in front of me. A good 2 1/2 months before I go to college. I think I could get a first draft done, if I worked every day, in about 5-6 weeks or so. After that I could send it out to betas, email it to an editor who helped me before, etc. Spend some time revising once I got the input, and maybe a few months later be ready to send it off.

So, what do you guys think? I could really appreciate some thoughts here.

06-18-2008, 07:48 AM
I think if you even have an inkling that it could be better another way, you should go for it. It could be your subconscious trying to show you the way. Trust it.

Danger Jane
06-18-2008, 07:55 AM
It sounds to me like you have your answer...you just don't want to have to carry through a major overhaul. Trust me, I know how you feel.

You're already looking on the bright side--you have a whole summer. Try out this overhaul. Reimagine your story. They almost always come out stronger for it, even if it's tough going at first.

You'll gain momentum. I swear.

Michael Parks
06-18-2008, 08:12 AM
Maybe try an informal sketch of the story as you see it developing over one book.

Then with that, sketch in a little more details, and see where it takes you. You might like the intensity/quality of the key events/scenes when brought in close. You might find the opportunity to really pack a punch in terms of pace and character development. Free yourself a bit to play.

06-18-2008, 09:08 AM
Would you consider e-publishing? Since you say you are very young, its not like you will waste your life on this. Quite often a writer will explore the same premise again and again and even write a different book using a similar plot. If you e-publish, you still get a publication credit, and you can finish your trilogy as you envisioned it without ripping the guts out of your novel. You might also consider putting it aside, writing another book, publishing it and then going back with this older book.

C.M. Daniels
06-18-2008, 01:00 PM
I've finished manuscripts (130k+) where I've looked over what I've written and decided that the idea is good, but I just can't let that ms be published, even after multiple edits.

In cases where I loved the story and the characters, I've started over, rewriting the project from page one. I've always come out with a much stronger, more polished, and more solid ms the second time around. I learn from what I didn't like in the first version and craft the new one accordingly. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it.

Linda Adams
06-18-2008, 02:26 PM
The rejections from the agents sound like standard agent-speak. They pretty much all mean the same thing: "Thanks, but no thanks," so I recommend not spending trying to divulge the hidden meaning behind the comments as to what must be wrong with your manuscript.

The requests for manuscripts says you have something the agents at least want to see, but the rejections after that might mean that the writing isn't quite there yet.

Beta readers should be taken with a grain of salt. If you get comments from betas that you agree with, by all means, fix the areas. But their opinions are just that, and the book isn't going to be to everyone's taste. The two I had for one of mine both absolutely hated it--neither for reasons that had anything to do with the book itself!

So ...

Work on your next project, a different book entirely not in the trilogy. You have to make a judgment call here about whether you want to continue submitting and maybe slow it down or stop entirely. Work on the second book and then come back to the first one. Chances are, you'll see some things you can improve that you learned from the first one.

You also should start doing crits in Share Your Work. I leaned how to improve my writing by doing crits. When I was in a critique group, we all did our first chapters, and after the first round, it was clear why the the first couple of chapters didn't work. Not because everyone had told me--in fact, they were all rather unclear--but because I saw the same things in everyone else's.

So the best thing you can do for yourself is work on a new project and do crits.

06-18-2008, 05:40 PM
Perhaps put it away for a while. I've re-read my first book because it was published in Australia nearly two years ago but now it's going to be published in USA/Canada. In that two years I've written the second book - out in Australia in a few months and in USA/Canada next year. I've started on the third book.

But I've made a few changes to the first book and I'm happy with the new passages. So after time you'll look on the work in a new way with more experiance and come to a different conclusion. So don't delete it!

06-18-2008, 05:50 PM
I'm sorry for your results, but I'm also not especially surprised. I'd be curious to hear what your beta said (betas who love your work are about as useful as a tit on a bull and unless needed for emotional support, need to go).

The agents are given you a solid idea of the problem, and your subconscious is hearing it. An agent said your work isn't compelling (which I would have said from your query letter) and so your subconscious says cut, cut, cut. You're basically talking about taking your trilogy for 200k and cutting it in half.

This is where I think you probably need to go. As I said in your synopsis you spend a lot of time world building and wasting words. World building is not compelling writing. Action is compelling, whether it's a sword fight or two people interacting.

Spend the summer rewriting this into a slick, compelling, tight story. Make your readers have to flip every page. Force your reader to serious debate whether getting up to go to the bathroom is a good idea. Drive your reader down the highway rather than bogging them down in rush hour traffic.

From what I've seen, your story isn't bad, and you're getting the same feedback from agents. You just haven't put the "WOW" factor on every page.

Make sure you don't meander like a small brook gently winding its way through the forest. Instead, make your reader feel like he or she is on top of a levee, shoveling sand like his or her life depends upon it, before they are swept away in the flood of your story.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Calla Lily
06-18-2008, 05:55 PM
Make sure you don't meander like a small brook gently winding its way through the forest. Instead, make your reader feel like he or she is on top of a levee, shoveling sand like his or her life depends upon it, before they are swept away in the flood of your story.

Quoted For Truth.

06-18-2008, 05:58 PM
It sounds like your basic idea is good enough to excite agent interest, but your execution is wanting.


06-18-2008, 06:16 PM
I think you have answered your own question. Rewrite it. However...

How long have you been thinking over/editing and reediting your story? Maybe you need some time away from it to take a breather--then maybe what you need to do will come to you? Since you've already had some interest from editors, there is also the possibility that you simply havent found the right one. Good Luck.

06-18-2008, 06:29 PM
The requests for manuscripts says you have something the agents at least want to see, but the rejections after that might mean that the writing isn't quite there yet.


Work on your next project, a different book entirely not in the trilogy.

I'm going to second what Linda Adams said. Sometimes you can tweak and rewrite the same project until it is something agents want to take on. Sometimes, no matter the time spent, you just can't.

Work on something entirely new. Improve your craft. Exercise those writing muscles on a fresh project. Then, when you've written something else, go back to this one with a brand new perspective. Getting distance from a problem project has helped me discover untold amounts of trouble spots I may not have seen otherwise.

06-18-2008, 08:12 PM
And sometimes dreaded revisions make the story better. Sometimes it's worth the blood, sweat, and tears. I'm in a similar boat.

I've got one novel that I'm querying, and starting to get some good results. I had 100 pages written on my second novel, and handed it to my critique group, workshopped it, and rewrote a portion. I was shocked at what I heard.

The published author who critiqued it at the workshop had great things to say about parts of it; but she was absolutely right in her comments about what needed fixed. My critique group got into an argument over it; a heated argument about whether it worked or not. I've come to the conclusion that they're all right; while some of them enjoyed the character enough to like wherever the story started, it just wasn't compelling enough to do the story justice. I'm saving it in my Recycled Writing file and starting over.

I've spend the last two weeks or so re-outlining the entire thing (again). I'm about two-thirds of the way through a detailed chapter outline, and if it goes on paper the way it's going in outline, I think I'm going to be VERY happy with it.

It's frustrating to think that I'm trashing 100 pages of decent prose. But decent isn't good enough for me. I'm not done making this story better. And I'm enjoying the challenge of it.

Only you can decide whether you can stomach returning to the same story over and over; but writing is rewriting. If the thought of writing another scene with those characters, no matter how good, makes your stomach turn, then it's time to move on. Otherwise, the very frustration at having to do the rewrite may produce some of the best writing you've done yet.

Good luck.

06-18-2008, 08:49 PM
First off, save a copy of the current ms. You said that it's still out with a couple of other agents/editors. Hold on to what you have until you hear back from all your queries.

Second, if you really feel the need to rewrite, then do so with a new file. (That way you also have a backup, both to refer to and in case something happens.) But if you're willing to do this, let it sit and ferment in your mind for a while. Your subconsious is telling you something already by telling you to rewrite. Let it finish going through what it's doing and wait for the results.

Third, start something new. This will allow you to work on something while you're waiting for the first one to work through your subconsious. It will also keep you learning more about your craft. And you can always set this one aside and let it ferment in your head while you're working on your first ms. Good stories are like good wine. You gotta do some prep work before you get a good product and time will do the rest.

06-18-2008, 09:13 PM
I just realized it was time for me to overhaul my WIP. I printed it out and I've been making notes and rewriting from the ground up. Heartbreaking, yes. But I think it's already moving in the right direction. And I coudln't agree more with dirtsider about making sure you save the previous version and starting a new one (and everything else he said)!

Best wishes to you!

Mr. Anonymous
06-20-2008, 07:06 PM
Thanks for all your input guys. I really appreciate it. What I figure I'll do is, wait to see how the partials and fulls I have out get back to me. One of the agents who asked for my partial just got back to me asking for some minor revisions, so I have to be doing something right, eh? :P Meanwhile, I'll start work on a new project as well as start sketching out an outline of how I could possibly tell the entire story in one book, to see if it really is plausible, etc. Thanks again for all your help!

E publishing is certainly something to consider, but I'm reluctant to look into it because I myself don't really read e-books, so I feel like the audience would be a lot smaller...

As for what the beta reader said. She didn't seem to like my writing style, which of course, is subjective. She also took issue with the fact that I did not portray Albinos realistically in the book (having my MC half blind and getting skin cancer would put a damper on the story...lol). She also said that my main character has a tendency to go on long critiques of human nature, which wasn't really up her alley, but it's the way I always envisioned him in the first book. She hated the main character's best friend, calling him an arrogant jerk, which, in fairness, he is. Sort of. lol. While on the subject of characters, she was upset that none of my major characters were women, which I guess I can understand. I mean, women do play a much greater role in the next two books, and especially the second one.

She also said that she felt like the actual story wasn't the most original, mainly referencing the fact that the orphan kid turns out to be a long lost prince. If only she knew what I had in store for the other books. GAH.

She also said my paragraphs were huge. lol. And that characters could at times, go on talking for a while. And...oh yea, she didn't like my ending either. lol. (I figured it would be a love it or hate it thing)

The other one recommended tightening up certain scenes, and maybe providing some more answers to the questions about some of the major characters. On the whole though, the first one liked the characters and the story. And the ending. :P