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Destined for the Drawer? October 19, 2012

 

 

In all my author interviews there seems to be a common denominator that links each and every writer – they made their debut with a manuscript that was their second, third or fourth try.

 

It is rare that an author can pen a novel for the first time and have it be pristine enough to make it past both an agent and a publisher.  Many writers refer to their first novel as their “starter manuscript,” or their own personal education on how to “not” write a story. But many times that first novel owns a piece of our soul.  It is an accomplishment that many people in this world cannot crow about , and with that distinction, many writers, including myself, find it very hard to put that precious baby away without ever introducing it to the public.

 

So the question then becomes how do you know if the blood, sweat and tears you’ve just poured into that beloved concept, should never see the light of day?  A couple of things come to mind….

 

1) After letting the story marinate for weeks/months/years – you go back to it and realize the writing is at a novice level

 

2) You present it several times over to your CP, who keeps trying to warn you the plotting and structure are shaky

 

3) You query the heck out of it – and you get nothing but form rejections

 

Now with all that being said, that doesn’t mean the concept has to be buried somewhere deep in a drawer or in the bowels of a trunk.  I’ve heard many stories of successful authors, who have gone back to their original work, and applied all their experience and knowledge to that first try. The result is something not only highly marketable, but a manuscript an author is proud to finally reveal to the world.

 

So if you’re like me, put that precious manuscript away.  Hone your craft, learn from your peers, listen to the advice of agents and editors and work on something new.  When you’ve reached your goals, and sharpened your pen, go back to that original idea with fresh eyes.  The result may be something that you never imagined and a thousand times better than your original concept.  It’s still your baby, it’s just dressed up pretty and finally ready to show off to the world.

 

What about you?  Do you have a precious jewel of a manuscript locked away somewhere?  What made you decide to put it away?  Do you think you’ll ever go back and repolish it?  Drop me a line, I’d love to hear about it!

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6 Responses to “Destined for the Drawer?”

  1. E.b. Black Says:

    Yes. But for me, it’s the second novel I ever wrote. The only novel I ever queried.

    My first novel was terrible, so terrible that I despised it. It was 90,000 words and it was a fantasy romance, but it was extremely cliche. I had no problems deleting it and I never miss it.

    BUT my second novel, I spent two years perfecting and although I know it’s bad, it’s special to me. It’s a stand alone novel about necromancers that I called “Spirit Speaker.” It also has romance in it. And I worked so hard on it and it had such high emotions in it for me that I still feel it’s special.

    The thing is, I have no idea how I’d ever be able to fix it. Even though I know so much more now, I don’t know how to apply it. I have editing burn out with it.

    But posts like this and my own brain beg me to go back and make it the novel it should be. I want people to read it, but I want it to be good enough for me to share with them.

    • Hey EB,
      Thanks for your amazing comment! I too have a manuscript #2 that I love. I too, want to get back to it someday. It’s those ones that own a piece of our heart that always pull you back.

  2. oh yes waiting to have that make over, and be sent out into the world

  3. deshipley Says:

    The first manuscript I queried… *hangs head* …should not have been queried. It was poor. I’m not sure when I realized it was poor, but realize I did, and a cringe-making realization it was. I’ve left it in the drawer for years while I moved on to numerous other stories, doubting whether I would ever be able to make anything out of that first world I’d written.

    I’ve since come up with a totally different approach to what I believe to be the stronger strands of that story, and am in the on-and-off process of that overhaul project. When it’s done, it’ll be better. Heck, it’s not close to done yet, and it’s already leagues better.

    I’m willing to bet that there’s somebody out there whose first novel was shelf-ready great. And I’m willing to admit that I was not that person; not by half. X)

    • Hi de,

      Yes, I think any good writer will admit to having that first MS that rightly deserves to never to see the light of day. But what I find amazing about writers is that they can acknowledge this and then move on to do even better work.


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