Friday, January 25, 2013

Anders on Warning Signs for Your Novel

Writing for io9 at the end of NaNoWriMo 2012, Charlie Jane Anders provided ten warning signs that your manuscript may not be salvageable. Excerpt:
It's almost the end of November, which means one thing: tens of thousands of you have just finished a novel. Congratulations! Now for the heart-breaking part -- looking at the hundreds of pages of action and emotion that you wrote in a feverish daze, and figuring out how to revise it. Or whether you really even want to.

And sometimes, you may just want to call this a practice novel and start another one from scratch. Here are 10 ways to tell if your brand spanking new novel just isn't worth revising.
Read the whole thing. For those of us who become easily disheartened over the state of our prose (slowly raises hand), we would do well to remember this preface to Anders’ suggestions: "Obviously, a lot depends on the definition of 'revise' here -- if you expand the word 'revise' to mean ‘throw out everything you've written and start over from scratch with one or two of the ideas from the original manuscript,' then any novel can be revised. And it's a virtual certainty that you'll have some ideas or a moment here and there from your new first draft that you'll like and want to use somewhere, even if it's in a completely new novel."

(Picture: CC 2008 by cavale; Hat Tip: @JRVogt)


Ben Mann said...

About 18 months ago I finished a 150K word first draft and was patting myself on the back for writing something of that length. Then I reread it.


If part of revision is killing our darlings, the first I most need to murder is any belief that I write transcendent prose; while somehow keeping sight of the fact that I can stay focused on a large project and see it through.

Identifying that a novel needs work is, I'd hazard, a lot easier than following through with that revision.

Loren Eaton said...

Though I've yet to finish something of that length, I know the pain of re-reading. Oh, yes, I do. It isn't much fun.