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Author Topic: To move on or stick with it?
Member # 1818

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I've got a finished novel. It has been finished for a while. I think it's great, brilliant even, but the several rounds of agents I've sent it out to don't seem to agree. I really believe in this book, but haven't gotten anywhere with it.

Recently, I've had an idea for a pretty major rewrite of one of the plot lines. I think it may fix something that has always been a nagging doubt in my mind about the book (slow beginning with a kind of whiny, unsympathetic POV character).

The problem is, I've also got two more good novel ideas bouncing around, and I've already written the first 1/3 of a rough draft for one. I think these are also brilliant stories.

So how do I spend my unfortunately very limited writing time? Plugging away at my longtime pet project, or getting the new stuff out there?

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Member # 8368

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Well, every writer is different. That said, I'd make a note of the new idea and let the finished novel REST before going back to it.

Then go write something new. In fact, I'd have started something new by the time I started sending the first out to agents.

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Member # 7760

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I think you should tell the story that's yelling loudest.
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Robert Nowall
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After awhile, I've found I just want to be rid of the thing I'm working on...so, as is often said, "no great work of art is ever finished, it is only abandoned."
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Member # 9213

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I agree with both Meredith and shimiqua. [Wink]

Dr. Bob

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Member # 8019

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Manufacturing startups begin stockpiling raw material inventory before they start production. Struggling artists in the plastic arts stockpile their projects that don't quite fulfill their intents. Building a projects-in-progress stockpile is without exception a practice every winning writer follows.

Part of the writing apprenticeship—ten years, a million words, three novels, several dozen short works, or whatever metric average—and growth into journeyperson writer is accumulating a portfolio selected from an entire body of work, and a bottom desk drawer, a trunk, or a file directory filled with projects in various phases of preparedness and appeal documenting a writer's growth.

Begin drafting the next novel project, what you learn from the process may develop skills and insights for reworking previous ones. Next month, next year, ten years from now; earlier inspirations may benefit. On the other hand, striking while the iron is hot is a best practice, too. Rework a project when an inspiration is fresh. Or some reworking of an earlier project while moving foward on a later project will do as well.

Writing is a matter of navigating roaring paradox rapids. Decision-making is in the end a writer's choices to make.

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Member # 8991

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There's lots of advice around on this very question. I do believe, in the end, you have to do what your heart desires. However, the popular advice is to move on.

Regardless of how the first novel did/is doing with agents, you should be writing the next one. (Most especially if the novel you're shopping around is your first.)

While many folks' experiences differ, I've found that my skills have multiplied with each completed novel.

I wrote the first one, edited, gave to alpha, edited, gave to beta, edited and put it away. (Thus completing the entire creative process.)

Wrote another one.
Wrote another one.
Wrote lots of short stories.

Visited the first novel and was shocked by how much I'd learned in the five or so years since I'd finished it.

Again, different folks will have different experiences, but that was mine.

Hell, I'm still learning. I'll probably look back on the one I'm writing now and be shocked again at how much I've grown five years from now...

Robert's quote is perfect. My first novel isn't finished, it's abandoned. I could go back and keep working on it if I wanted to. It's a killer idea and an epic story. Who knows, maybe someday I'll give it a complete rewrite. But not today. Today is for moving onward and upward.


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Member # 1563

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One thing to consider is that your pet project has already been rejected by several agents. They won't want to see that novel again, no matter how much you've changed it. To them, it is a dead horse.

So it depends on how many other agents have yet to see it. If it were me, I'd make the improvements before sending it out again. (I'm just that kinda guy. [Smile] ). But if you're out of prospects, or are scraping the bottom of the barrel, then I'd make copious notes and put it away for a while, until you have at least one sale and the agents will be more receptive to your work.

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Member # 9757

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I say let it rest for a while. Start your new novel. Maybe start more than one. Break your mind free of the squirrel cage.

Then, when you have completely weaned yourself from the addiction, go back and skim through the first novel again. If you still like it after it has had time to cool for a while, self-publish it. If nothing else, it will get your name out there.

If, after writing some more, you start to see a few things that bother you i suggest putting it away again until you finish your second, and maybe your third book. Then go back to the first one and go over it with a ruthless red pen. Pretend it was written by a stranger, if you can.

It's always better if you can find a beta reader who doesn't mind hurting your feelings. If you can find one, cherish them like gold. A beta reader who is willing to be rude and merciless to you is has a price that is far above rubies.

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Member # 8714

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What axe said. Move forward. Revisit the pet project when you've honed your skills a bit more.
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Member # 9148

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I'm a bit late here and you have already received some good advice.

But I wanted to chip in with;


Keep sending out the first novel--you never know how many agents will say no before one say yes. I've heard stories where it's been close to one hundred that said no. And/or send out a publishing packet straight to the publishers

And while you do that write the next couple of novels and work on your craft at the same time.

This is a a new version of what many have stated already even though I'm not sure how many posters said "both".

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Member # 1818

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Thanks for all the advice, guys. You've convinced me: moving on to finish a draft of the new one this Summer (I'm a high school teacher and drama director, which means I really only have time to write over Summers). One draft of Soul of the Machine (just a working title; I'm not in love with the title) coming up by August.

Should be refreshing, because it's very different than the older pet project. Probably much more marketable, too, to be honest.

Thanks, all!

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