Thursday, September 08, 2011

I Reread My Second Novel, and It Was OK...

The experience, that is, not the book itself. The beginning was slow; the characters had it too easy, worried about the wrong things, were too passive, and were unlikeable at times; there was lots of telling and summarizing; and of course it's way too long at 177,000 words. And yes, I queried it around back in the day (probably about a decade ago). I did get a few partial requests and one full from an editor who was at Tor at the time. He never formally rejected it, but I bet my manuscript has long been recycled. Unfortunately, he did tell me at a convention that he would send me a critique of my story, but he never did. I'd like to think if he had, it would have helped me, not crushed me.

The writing wasn't terrible, though it could be improved. The adverbs made me cringe, but the setting and description worked. I'm still amazed I was able to keep seven different POVs straight. That's harder than it looks!

The best part of the experience was being able to see the craft issues that kept this story grounded. When I finish some of my current projects, I'd like to go back to this world and characters to reboot the story. And this time, there'll be more tension and action and less internal monologue. (Cackles evilly.)

When was the last time you revisited something you wrote earlier? Do you think you've improved more with the story-telling aspects of writing or the word-and-sentence part?

10 comments:

Cherie Reich said...

I went back to work on my first novel. The story-telling aspects were wonderful in it. The writing..not so much. Oh, it's mainly grammatical, but man, I loved backstory and head hopping back then and way too much tell instead of show. I've definitely improved on the actual writing since then, but I was impressed with my story-telling. *laughs*

That's a shame about the editor never getting back to you, but that's awesome you kept the seven different POVs straight! Good luck revising it. :)

Curmudgeon said...
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Curmudgeon said...
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Curmudgeon said...

Aviva here. (Sorry about the two deleted posts--long story.) I went back to Strings, of course. I was quite surprised that it was pretty decent overall, which was one reason I finally managed to finish it. I certainly did my share of editing on it, though. I'm still tempted to edit bits as better ways to say things occur to me.

That editor sounds like a class-A d-bag.

Maria Zannini said...

Oh, gosh. I hope I improve with every novel.

I'm sorry to hear that editor never got back to you.

What have you decided to do with that 177k book? Will you rewrite it into two books or one?

Tere Kirkland said...

I go back all the time to revisit the characters and the story, but not the writing. It hurts my head to deal with the whole as is, with all the adverbs, excessive adjectives and repetitive sentence structures. And, oh god the telling! ;)

I love those old stories, I just hate the way I told them. I have a few I'd like to read in one big binge and then try to re-write from scratch and see what happens.

Great post!

Huntress said...

Even more telling is returning to the very first MS before any edits. Wow, what, um, Stuff.

My first ms holds a place in my heart. Even though it is still out there (a full) it probably needs a sharp pencil and much editing. Our writing can only get better. Or I would hope so at least :)

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Cherie, I think when people start writing, they may be good with words or good with stories, but not both. I was much better with words than stories. Good for you with the story-telling!

Aviva, I knew it was you as soon as you mentioned Strings. Nice to see you comment over here! I'm glad that you did finish Strings. As for the editor, it was so long ago it doesn't matter to me anymore.

Maria, I too want to improve with every novel. I may split the book, but I have to outline the entire story and see if I have two complete story arcs.

Tere, that's a good way to put it, loving the old stories but hating how they were told.

Huntress, even I'm not brave enough to go back to the very first MS before edits. My first book might be on a floppy somewhere in an unreadable format, and I'm happy to leave it there!

Michael Offutt said...

I would like to have seen what that editor said about your book. Getting interest from Tor is pretty darn awesome.

Pk Hrezo said...

Sandra, that's the beauty of it! Even tho the actual story isn't quite ready as it is, the ideas are there and fleshed out. I just did this with my very first story, which is horrible for many of the same reasons you mentioned with yours. But I wrote a brand new story a few months ago with totally different concept, and pulled characters and world building ideas from the first one. Now that my writing has gotten way better, I did a lot more with the new story and was still able to use some great ideas!

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