PDA

View Full Version : Re-writing an older manuscript...



Sean D. Schaffer
01-20-2007, 03:15 PM
Hello everyone,


I am in the process of re-writing an older manuscript of mine, one which has been published through a scam company.

Although I am steady in this whole thing myself, my curiosity is, how many of you have also written your older works a second time so they could be legitimately pubbed? What were your reasons for doing so, if you did it?

My own reasons for doing this are that I need closure to an old open wound in my writing life. When I found out what kind of company had my book up until March of last year, I lost much of my interest in writing, and thought I had lost all hope. I have since decided to re-write the novel with the hope that I will bring the needed healing to my own life, and that I will perhaps see the finished product in print through a legitimate house within the next few years.

That's my reason for what I have done. I look forward to seeing what you all have to say about this subject. I wish you all the best with your writing endeavors, and thank you all for reading this thread.

:)

Pamster
01-20-2007, 05:22 PM
I am sorry you got taken by a scam publisher Ian, that is a really sad thing to happen to an author. What is good now is that you're working on it again and trying to fix the problems you see in it as a story, you should maybe see about getting an agent or polish up the query on it and send it out while you're working on it. But definitely don't give up, that is when those places win, when they destroy a writer's ego and sel-esteem. At least that is what I think.

I am trying to find an agent for two books and trying to sell a third. I haven't been published yet but it just has to be worth something; something important and really uplifting like holding your book in your hands. That has to be the best feeling in the world. :)

cinders23
01-20-2007, 05:50 PM
I think it's a good idea and I'm sure you will make many improvements to the older version. I almost got tangled up with scammish publishing company and it does make you feel pretty terrible. I kept telling myself it was a learning experience. It seems with writing and publishing just when you think you know enough...there is something else to learn. But yes, if you are inspired to do the re-write then do it.

Cindy.

Pat~
01-20-2007, 07:28 PM
I admire your tenacity, Sean, and hope that it becomes the book you'll be proud of. I have an older manuscript that needs rewriting (it was a workbook, for which there is negligible market), and I haven't gotten up the gumption to tackle it yet. I know in order to be publishable, it needs to be written as a regular book, but I almost don't know where to begin. Anyway, you're an inspiration, and I wish you the best.

PeeDee
01-20-2007, 07:57 PM
Usually, the reason older novels wind up sitting in a drawer somewhere (I know I have a couple) is that the core ideas were a bit circumspect, and I didn't recognize the problem until I was well into the story itself, or done with it.

I have some short stories from years past that I look at every now and then and think of revising, but until I come with a decent way to do it (a new angle, a new style, something) then I generally don't.

JanDarby
01-20-2007, 08:04 PM
Yeah, what PeeDee said. Early stories are often fatally flawed, and even with improved skills, they may not be fixable into publishable form, at least not without essentially starting over from scratch.

I know. I recently rewrote an early story that had petered out (b/c the story premise really couldn't support a 400-page novel), and changed it into a novella, thinking it would be fast and easy, and I really needed to get a second book into the marketplace. Ha! It would have been much easier just to erase the entire original manuscript and start over from scratch, keeping the initial premise but adjusted for the new market/length, instead of trying to edit what I had. I eventually jettisoned about 95% of the original manuscript, but only after I'd spent a big chunk of time trying to fix it.

I did get it done, and that felt good to put it behind me, and it's going to be available next month from Liquid Silver Books. But, really, the next time I think something writing-related is going to be fast and easy, I hope someone will dope-slap me until I come to my senses.

JD

roach
01-20-2007, 08:12 PM
I've rewritten short stories from years ago. About three-quarters of them aren't worth rewriting and I finally give up. I have two novels I wrote over a decade ago and I wouldn't even try rewriting them. Every once in a while I'll peek into the files, read a bit of text, cringe and get back to work on new material.

Good luck with the rewrite.

johnzakour
01-20-2007, 08:37 PM
My latest novel, The Forst Haired Vixen, is a massive rewrite of the second screenplay I ever wrote (for a competition) over 15 years ago.

rugcat
01-20-2007, 08:55 PM
My latest novel, The Forst Haired Vixen, is a massive rewrite of the second screenplay I ever wrote (for a competition) over 15 years ago. All the ideas we gave you, and you came up with Forst?

Gabriel
01-20-2007, 10:04 PM
My WIP(Nearly finished) is a vast re-write. The first time I wrote it, it was about 20,00-30,000 words long and sucked. On the re-write I changed many elements, developed a new mythology all of my own, introduced characters in different ways. What I did keep from the old one was certain scenes that read well and fitted in quite nicely. Hopefully it shall tie up quite nicely. :e2headban :e2headban

Maryn
01-21-2007, 01:31 AM
My latest novel, The Forst Haired Vixen, is a massive rewrite of the second screenplay I ever wrote (for a competition) over 15 years ago.And to think my critique group laughs because no matter how awful it is, I never delete anything I wrote...

Maryn, assuring you much of it's pretty awful, but knowing it could be the next Forst Haired Vixen, you know?

Sean D. Schaffer
01-22-2007, 01:17 AM
Usually, the reason older novels wind up sitting in a drawer somewhere (I know I have a couple) is that the core ideas were a bit circumspect, and I didn't recognize the problem until I was well into the story itself, or done with it.

I have some short stories from years past that I look at every now and then and think of revising, but until I come with a decent way to do it (a new angle, a new style, something) then I generally don't.


I know what I'm going to have to do to this old story. I'm going to have to cut about 80 pages out of it. The original version was very preachy, and at the same time, I had a major problem with head-hopping throughout the work. Also, I had the issue of putting irrelevant things into the manuscript... or things that made absolutely no sense.

However, I am confident the original idea is a good one. I do know what you're saying, though. Much of the story was heavily flawed in many areas.

One nice thing about this work, though, is that it is not a first story for me. It was my third or fourth finished manuscript originally. The first one I finished was so bad that I think I threw it away when I was a teenager. Remembering just how bad that particular manuscript was, I can say I am glad it is gone.

So yeah, there's going to be a lot of work to be done on WC. It has to be done, though, or it will never be what I want it to be. But I do know the basic idea of the work is pretty decent. The work is coming along slowly, but I think in the end, it will be worth it, if for no other reason than it will be in my own opinion, ready for real submission.


Thanks for your thoughts, everyone.

:)

jodiodi
01-22-2007, 02:41 AM
Good luck with your rewrite.

I've got a few to do myself. I'm hoping time has given me some perspective.

victoriastrauss
01-22-2007, 05:38 AM
I'm currently rewriting a short story I wrote in 1976 (!), back when I was dutifully trying to do short fiction as a way of learning my craft (soon after, I realized that I really wanted to write novels, which is what I did till just recently). It's one of the few decent stories I ever wrote, and the idea and premise stayed with me, so I thought I'd try cleaning it up for submission.

Reading through it, it still seemed to me that the premise worked, but the execution seemed so flawed, thirty-mumble years on, that I realized that cleaning it up wasn't an option--I'd have to rewrite it from scratch. So that's what I'm doing. The premise and structure will be the same, but it won't be the same story.

I'm torn between feeling upset that my prose style was so uneven at age nineteen, and feeling good that it has improved to the degree it has. Some of the things I was trying, and not quite managing, to achieve back then are practically effortless for me now. On the other hand, there's that little voice that says "If you were a real writer, you would have been able to do better back then." I'm trying to ignore it.

- Victoria

Maryn
01-22-2007, 05:43 AM
Pardon me for being both off-topic and gushy at a medium-creepy level, but Victoria, you have no idea what good it does us to hear someone with your level of accomplishment voice doubts about being a 'real writer.'

Maryn, who hopes to feel like one at some point

Sean D. Schaffer
01-22-2007, 06:33 AM
Pardon me for being both off-topic and gushy at a medium-creepy level, but Victoria, you have no idea what good it does us to hear someone with your level of accomplishment voice doubts about being a 'real writer.'

Maryn, who hopes to feel like one at some point


Agreed.

dclary
01-22-2007, 06:49 AM
If you look at the acknowledgements to Paolini's Eragon, he talks about his editor at Knopf, and how many vast improvements she made to the pacing of the story.

That means the version they published was probably in many ways different and better than his self-published version.

Didn't hurt him to do that rewrite. Won't hurt you either.

Go for it.

Jamesaritchie
01-22-2007, 07:06 PM
I very seldom try to rewrite anything that's old, but I may recycle the idea. Thorw the old writing away, keep the idea, and write a completely new story from scratch.

PeeDee
01-22-2007, 07:34 PM
I very seldom try to rewrite anything that's old, but I may recycle the idea. Thorw the old writing away, keep the idea, and write a completely new story from scratch.

I generally do too, if there's still something worthwhile in the original idea. Even then, the plot of the original story usually goes out the window too, and what I re-write from is the basic "what if" concept that got me going in the first place.

The plot, like the writing style itself, is usually flawed and incompatible with anything I can do, years after the fact.

victoriastrauss
01-22-2007, 07:42 PM
Pardon me for being both off-topic and gushy at a medium-creepy level, but Victoria, you have no idea what good it does us to hear someone with your level of accomplishment voice doubts about being a 'real writer.'Thanks. But I should also say how intensely destructive such doubts can be, if you indulge them (as I tend to do). I think it's natural to have the doubts, but my advice would be to do all you can to squash/banish/ignore them as soon as they arrive.

- Victoria

Chumplet
01-29-2007, 06:52 AM
My first manuscript went through the gamut of queries to agents, and in the meantime I had completed a second. Frustrated with the lack of enthusiasm for the first novel, I put it aside and concentrated on the second one.

Last week, I researched e-publishers and thought, 'What the heck' and took the first manuscript out of the drawer. I dusted it off, double checked the query, emailed it to The Wild Rose Press and promptly received a request for three chapters.

I went over the chapters, and made some minor adjustments (I'm a sucker for head-hopping, too) and sent them today. Now I intend to go over the rest of the manuscript and apply what I've learned over the past year.

For a novel I'd given up on, why not let it net me a few bucks?

tlblack
01-29-2007, 09:22 AM
I started rewriting my "bad publisher" book back in July even though I didn't get the contract cancelled until November. The changes I've made are most probably the same ones I would have been asked to change or make better if my agent at the time hadn't sent my ms to the same "bad publisher." That book sat on the bookshelf for almost four years that I didn't touch it, and two of those years I didn't write at all.

Whether or not my first book ever gets published with a legitimate publisher, I will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I did the rewrite and made it better than it was. So far, I've not changed too much of it, and find that the errors I see in the actual book itself were not there in my original copy of the ms, which I still have in a three ring binder and on disc. Those same errors were not on my final "print proof" from the publisher either. In some places of the book, whole paragraphs had been completely left out that were in both the ms and the proofs. The book was shortened by 53 pages, which at the time, I attributed entirely to the difference between ms format and the printing format. I now know that at least some of those pages weren't there because parts of it were missing.

For me, writing again started out as a real challenge. There was too much doubt in my abilities to write. When I did start to write again, I wrote an entire novel in less than three months (first draft) but put it away because I still had those doubts. I'm querying agents for the second book now. I've written something or other since I was ten years old and had to write a play for English class on "The Importance of Homework." Got myself and A+ and a blue ribbon for that one, lol. I can't say it was much fun because of the subject, but did keep me interested in writing. I'm determined to get the rewrite finished. I learned a great lesson from my Mom, who we lost three years ago, Jan. 26th. There is no mountain too high to climb if you have the tenacity and sheer will to climb it.

Good luck with your rewrite!

Sean D. Schaffer
01-29-2007, 10:39 AM
Thanks everyone, for your good wishes. I heartily appreciate them.


One thing I've noticed about my work, is that my characters are 'turning around' too much. I mean, every other sentence it seems, one of my characters is 'turning to face' something or someone. I'm glad I've decided to do two re-writes, because with the one I'm on now, I can fix basic grammar problems and head-hopping issues as I go.

But as my present old manuscript is a single-spaced computer-generated nightmare, I plan on doing my word changes and major editing with the next re-write. I am typing the new version up double-spaced on the typewriter, which is beneficial in that I can go back and with the red pencil, cross out and replace the words I don't want to use.

Anyway, that's what I have found out about my manuscript that I am not exactly fond of. But at least it can be repaired. I think when the work is finished with the next version, it will be ready for publication. I have decided my next revision of this piece is going to be the final one before I submit, so I know I had best get it right.


I'll talk to you all later, and I hope you have a good week ahead.

:)

Pamster
01-29-2007, 06:47 PM
Thanks. But I should also say how intensely destructive such doubts can be, if you indulge them (as I tend to do). I think it's natural to have the doubts, but my advice would be to do all you can to squash/banish/ignore them as soon as they arrive.

- Victoria

I had my first real brush with doubt the other night when my entry went live on gather. I got a real bad flamer commenting on my writing and it upset me so much thinking that I had been deluding myself that I have any talent or any skill. I feel a lot better now though, but when that was going on I felt like dirt and of course that is what the flamer wanted, but I got over it. ;)

The point is that you're right Victoria, you can't indulge or entertain that kind of doubt about what you're doing or you won't be able to keep doing it. And that it's natural to have doubts, but you really have to banish them from your mind or learn how destructive they can be first hand like I did the other night. If you believe in your work then don't let anything or anyone try to take that away from you. I wish I could have remember that Saturday night and saved myself from being so upset but at least I got a handle on it now. :)

Pagey's_Girl
01-29-2007, 10:44 PM
I've just started rewriting a story I was working on about twelve years ago. I think I can make something of it now that people will actually want to read.