~ By Claudia Shelton
My first novel released last week, except it wasn’t exactly my first…it was the third manuscript I had written and just happened to be the first one published. So would that be called my debut novel release? Or the debut publication of my third novel, twice or thrice removed? Actually, I don’t know what you’d call it, but I’m just glad my book is out there in the world getting good reviews.
Now what do I do with those other two manuscripts in the drawer, under the bed or lost in space? After all, I still think the stories are good. My alpha heroes and sassy women are still hoping to see the world of readers. And I can never say never on something I’ve written, so I’d like to freshen them up and see what happens.
Only trouble is, I’m in the midst of writing two new manuscripts while my agent shops another one I just finished. So whatever I decide to do with the two manuscripts under the bed needs to be within reason on time and energy and staying true to the reader’s expectation for my stories. So in case you are considering a rework, too, here are a few things to consider.
- You may say, just leave them where they are—out-of-sight and out-of-mind. No problem because there’s nothing wrong with this option. Sometimes focusing on the next project will provide a much larger growth in our writing career, than looking back to see how far we’ve already come.
- Do you plan to leave the story in the same romance sub-genre as when you initially wrote the manuscript? Perhaps you see it in a shiny, new category that is rocking the publishing world. Maybe you’ve already found publication in a different sub-genre. As for myself, the first two were heavy on contemporary romance, whereas the novel that just released is romantic suspense. And remember how I mentioned staying true to the reader’s expectation? Well for me that means staying focused on romantic suspense for the next few books until I’m established.
- Have you written an 85,000 word manuscript, but now want to target a 65,000 word publisher’s line? Or vise-versa? Cutting words isn’t always easy. Sure you can delete a scene, but then you have to make sure nothing in that scene needs to be a drop-in line elsewhere. That you didn’t cut the one scene in the book that tells us the hero has blue eyes. And even though adding 20,000 words sounds easy, that’s not necessarily so. Sure you can add another plot-line, another love scene, another breakup, but has that changed the dynamic of the couple or the overall plot? Is the story still believable? Or will the reader end up confused?
- Maybe you do decide to edit what you wrote a few years back. How hard could that be? All you need to do is toss in a few rewrites here and there to cover all the writing techniques you’ve learned over the years at workshops. Now I’m the first to acknowledge learning the craft is a never ending reality of writing. And this can be a good idea. But remember you have to be willing to ditch parts you thought were fabulous three years ago. Make the hero more likeable. The heroine less grumpy. Write tighter…write descriptive…write action verbs. Can you do that? Better question, do you want to do that?
- How about taking a chunk from your manuscript to work into a novella? Work a section into an anthology with other authors. Try self-publishing (which is another blog unto itself). All viable options in this ever changing publishing world.
Recently, I considered reworking one of my under the bed contemporary manuscripts into a romantic suspense. Then as I read the story page by page, I realized I still liked the story as a contemporary. I don’t want to make it into something else just to get it published. I’ve discovered I’m confident enough in myself to say no…not right now.
So I’ve shoved the manuscript back in the drawer. Once I’m an established writer, maybe I’ll take another look. Maybe risk a chance of publishing in a difference sub-genre. Maybe take a chance at publication with a pseudonym. There are many possible solutions to the manuscript(s) under the bed, in the drawer and lost in space, but enter the foray knowing nothing will be any easier by reworking an old manuscript instead of writing from scratch. It’s all up to you which way you chose. In the end, you’re the one who needs to feel good about what you’ve written.
Award-winning author Claudia Shelton thought she wrote mainstream when she began writing, but before long, someone told her she sounded more like romance. Then those pesky alpha heroes and the women strong enough to love them, started running through her mind insisting she write their own happily-ever-after. Since then, she’s focused on HEA with a splash of suspense or intrigue, becoming a two-time finalist in the Daphne Du Maurier (Unpublished) awards for excellence in mystery and suspense. During her downtime from writing, you’ll find her sipping a cup of cocoa in winter’s chill or enjoying a drink by the water in summer’s heat–either way, she’s always enjoying life. Her novel RISK OF A LIFETIME, Entangled Ignite, is now available on digital release.
Twitter: @ClaudiaShelton1 https://twitter.com/ClaudiaShelton1