Should You Start Over and Do a Complete Novel Rewrite?

Should You Start Over and Do a Complete Novel Rewrite?

Should You Start Over and Do a Complete Novel Rewrite?
Photo by Rowan Saunders

Should You Start Over and Do a Complete Novel Rewrite?

Are you editing your novel and considering trashing the whole thing and starting over? Read to do a complete novel rewrite? Before you do anything drastic, here are some things to consider:

Are you being too particular?

When it takes a year or longer to write a manuscript, it's easy to be disappointed by your work when you're going through the revisions. You're not the same person as when you started. More than likely, your writing skills have improved and you've matured from life lessons over the last year. What seemed like a good idea a year ago suddenly doesn't seem so original or interesting now.

But one big thing to consider is your audience. Most readers devour books in a matter of days or weeks. They don't have the time invested like you do, so their perspective is different. You need to decide if your writing is really that bad or if you're just at a more mature time in your life.

Are you afraid of failure? Afraid that your work won't measure up?

Have you ever read the first few works of your favorite authors? There's a high probability that the early work isn't nearly as good as their work now.

One of the things you can do for your current work is to send it to an independent book editor who can give you feedback and help you make the decision to either trash it or keep polishing it. I bet your manuscript isn't nearly as bad as you might think.

Have you captured the emotion of the story?

Part of the writing process involves getting the words to flow just right so that the reader can sense the emotion of the characters and the story – there's a sense of energy that makes the writing impactful. Oftentimes, writers are able to capture that emotion and energy when they start out because they're fired up about the story.

But if you do a complete novel rewrite after such a long period of time, you run the risk of getting bored or burned out. If that happens, it's hard to get that flow to the story again because your heart isn't in it. You want the work done and you want to do your best work, but by the time you start considering a full rewrite, you're ready to move onto other stories.

So, before you make such a drastic decision, give it some serious thought. Consider the things I've mentioned above – is a complete novel rewrite really necessary or can you work with what you've got?

Jody Calkins
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