Edit, Rewrite, or… Scrap: #Writer’s dilemma #amwriting

SentinelI know this work is far from being completed, let alone publishable. Friends have, politely, ignored invites to comment, always a bad sign… Yet I am reluctant to scrap, while accepting that making this good would require a lot of effort, probably more so than it took to scribble in the first place.

What hope is there of turning this into a cohesive, structured, readable THING? The structure is like straw in the wind, and I am not convinced it ever was readable as a story. There are good intervals, and those are rarely followed by a consistent development: it’s all very fuzzy.

I have asked the characters, and some of them are willing to help, all in different ways. One suggests making his part the central narrative! Evidently a biased view. Another to tell the tale backwards, with flashbacks. Who knows? I like the characters, even the unruly ones. But the story? I know how it started, how it meandered… to end nowhere, in a confusion of styles, hesitating between futurist, nostalgic or plainly erratic!

So, the question remains, what is there to do? Edit? Rewrite? Or scrap. Plenty of new ideas, plenty of possible projects… Reusing the material – some 100k or thereabout – is tempting, perhaps in an entirely new context.

9 thoughts on “Edit, Rewrite, or… Scrap: #Writer’s dilemma #amwriting

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  1. Don’t give up on it. My hard drive is thickly coated with the slime of projects that failed to reach chapter six, but I come back to them from time to time, and from time to time I may finish one. There is a book, though, that has been with me for nearly five years, during which time it has altered from third to first person and back again, switched between vampire and mystery, and moved from light fiction to social comment. I kept stepping back from it because it just didn’t read as I wanted it to, then I explored a fresh angle, then made a character alteration…. Now, at last, I know where its going. It’s in the editing stage, so I have a realistic chance of getting published before I die. Whoop-ee-do!

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  2. Put it to one side for a while and write something else. It might help to give you a fresh perspective. I struggle with plot development and pacing in my own books.What helps for me is if I break each chapter down into basic bullet points. That gives me an overview of how the story is developing and enables me to understand what areas need to be tweaked.


  3. Have you tried putting it away for about 6 weeks and then going back to read it as though it were someone else’s? I did that once and was shocked at what problems I discovered! Since none of your friends will give you an honest answer, you might want to look into a writing support group. Libraries usually have these. But – write something, anything every day to maintain your routine – always write!!


  4. I suggest putting it to the side for a time and writing something else. I’ve lost track of the revisions I’ve done on my first trilogy, and I’m gearing up to do more next year.

    Several things helped me. I joined Absolute Write (online), took Holly Lisle’s free flash fiction course (also online, you can google it if you’re interested), and I started writing short stories and submitting them for critique. Then I started beta swapping novels with other writers I met there, and that has done me the most good of all. It’s so much easier to see mistakes in other people’s work first.

    Learning about story structure was also a big help to me. There’s stuff about it on my blog, but it’s hardly the only place. Lots of good info out there about three-act structure and the hero’s journey, only a click away.


  5. Sometimes I walk away, let myself meander into a different focus. This may take years for me lol. But if the story is IN you, it will reemerge over and over on other pieces. Write a letter to one of them. Write a prose poem or essay or vignette. Chop it up. Piece it when you feel it becoming it’s own because I think once you give that story and those characters time and room in your mind you’ll open up to what you’re really trying to say. Write a pretend query letter?
    Good luck!


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