Saturday, September 17, 2011

How Many Times Have You Rewritten a Story?



How many times have you edited a manuscript that you believed in?

I have one story that I’ve totally rewritten or edited/polished at least 20 times. Yes, 20. The first time was immediately after I finished it. The story topped out at 120,000 words. Don’t ask me why it was so long. I have no idea. But I knew it had to be shorter. So, I cut 20,000 words. Then, it was rejected by an editor. She gave me some fantastic suggestions, and I tore it apart again. This time the “finished” product was 86,000 words. Then I did it again , and again, and again…you get the picture. Eventually, the finished manuscript turned out to be 63,000 words and hardly any of those original 120,000 words even remain. But the best thing is that the story keeps getting better with each rewrite, and I fall even more in love with the story.

A few weeks ago there was an article on Yahoo from the writer of THE HELP regarding her obsession about “fixing” her story when she got rejections, which she got 60 of them before signing with an agent. I have to admit I’m the some way.

How about you? Do you keep fixing your stories, or do you just shove them away after so many times being rejected?

11 comments:

Patricia Preston said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading my sample. I love your blog! Especially the header image. It is stunning. I am currently revising a manuscript that I have revised several times. This time I'm revising for an editor and there will be more revisions later if it goes to publication.

Brenda said...

I've revised my novel many times--don't remember the exact number. I now have it where "I" love it, but I'm sure that will change yet again. LOL, hopefully due to suggestions from an editor!

Margie Porter said...

I know what you mean. I'm in constant rewrite of 3 mss-always for the better!

Christine Warner said...

I'm a rewriter too...and I agree with you that each rewrite seems to make my story stronger and better...and I fall more in love with it. Of course while I'm doing it, I might not love it so much. LOL. Love your subject today, and your website it great...will be going back to read some of the posts there.

Jerri said...

I usually just start another book. I have revised but I hate having to totally revamp a story. Seems too daunting.

Jennifer Lowery (Kamptner) said...

This is really a good post! I have wondered this too. When do you know when to stop revising? I have the story of my heart collecting dust because I've revised and revised and still can't figure out what the problem is. A complete overhaul seems too much right now. Maybe someday...

Sheri Fredricks said...

Hi Sara ~ The more I write, the more I grow as a writer. I can see how a great writer would know to change their stories to make it stronger, and that's a good thing to recognize. I've deviated off my original outline, but the plotting changed before the actual writing took place.

Great post. This gets me thinking.

D'Ann said...

Hi, friend.

I am a rare one. I don't rewrite much.

Burn is the exception. I have rewritten it a few times, and I don't like the rewrites as much as I liked the original version. In fact, I've pretty killed that ms because of it.

Zee Monodee said...

Hi Sara

Sorry I'm late to join the party. :)

I usually 'only' rewrite my start, Chapter 1-3 tops. Until I get the start the way I want it, I cannot finish a book. So once I'm clear over the start and satisfied with the GMC and progression, it should be smooth sailing towards the ending.

I've been known to rewrite that start 7 times on an ms. I usually strike between 2-3 rewrites before I'm satisfied and I then plod along. :)

J.Rose Allister said...

My 4th book still sits in my editing pile years later. Every year or so I take it out, blow off the dust, and give it another once over. Even before I'm through, I realize I haven't quite got "IT" yet and it goes back to the pile. The real story just isn't there, and until it is that baby's goin' nowhere. Glad I'm not the only one who is edit-obsessed!

Tabitha Blake said...

Revisions are a must but you have to stop at some point and see how it goes. If not then you will be forever rewriting. You will never have a perfect ms. So I don't think there is a set rule you just have to go with your gut on this one.