Resurrect That Dying Novel
Most writers will admit to having an old, half-finished
manuscript tucked away in a bottom drawer somewhere. Some
writers may even be losing momentum on their current
project, believing their original idea is no longer valid,
or worse, dying a slow painful death.
Is it possible, then, to resurrect these projects and
breathe new life into them?
Of course it is.
Sometimes just reading through a long-ignored manuscript
can spark the lost enthusiasm. Seeing it again after some
time has passed can also highlight any problems there may
be and send you on a rewriting binge to set it right.
But it's not always that simple. What if the manuscript
really doesn't ignite anything within you anymore?
Try to identify what made the original idea behind the
writing exciting to you in the first place. Then read
through what you've written and be honest about the way
the work makes you feel. Compare this feeling with the
bare-bones excitement of the idea itself. Does the story
you wrote convey the concept in the best possible light?
Often the problem is not in the idea, but in the
development of the theme you have chosen to bring that
idea to life. Perhaps one of the characters has taken
your plot on a joyride that runs on a tangent to the
original concept. Or perhaps the plot itself doesn't
explore the idea fully enough to sustain the initial
excitement you felt when you first had that burst of
Be ruthless here. Cut all of the pieces that detract from
your original concept. Don't worry about losing sections
you like. You can always use those cut pieces in future
writing projects. If they send your plot-line off on a
tangent, then they play no part in your resuscitation
Pull apart any sections of writing which don't contribute
to the central theme, or advance your plot. Be scrupulous
with any dialogue that wanders aimlessly and doesn't give
your readers new information about the idea you wanted to
write about in the first place.
After you've removed any scenes or characters that don't
add to the development of your idea, read through what
you have left. There may not be much left, but what is
there should display enough to convey the original
enthusiasm that sparked the whole idea in the first place.
In some sort of logical sequence, piece together the bits
that remain. At the heart of these snippets you should
see a tangible plot trying to emerge. Filling in the
missing plot pieces at this point should be an easy step.
With the original spark you felt for that storyline
restored, not only will you find the rewriting process
much easier, but you will also find hidden reserves of
motivation to drive you along.
As for the sections you ruthlessly cut, place them in a
separate file. They can easily be resurrected too - as a
healthy start on your next writing project.
Copyright 2001 Lee Masterson. All rights reserved