Every Monday I take a popular post from the past, and I recover it with new information and approaches. Today’s topic is more relevant than ever. I first tackled this topic over a year ago, explaining what it was like to rewrite November Snow, my first published novel from 2007, but, at the time, I had no idea I would finish the rewrite, let alone that the rewrite would turn into Bad Bloods and be signed with Clean Teen Publishing for release in July of 2016. The original post can be found here, and it covers totally different aspects, so I highly recommend checking out the first one too. Here are my top three lessons I learned by rewriting a novel…and getting it published again.
1. Every Change is a Ripple…and a GIANT Wave.
I was not prepared for this, even though you’d think it would be obvious. Well, it wasn’t. I went into the rewrite with a few goals. I knew of a couple of things I wanted to change, but the more I studied my own work, the more I realized I had to change, and each change—even the smallest of changes—had a HUGE ripple effect on the rest of the work. (It’s more accurate to call it a wave.) Before you ever attempt a rewrite, read your own work and take notes. As you rewrite it, take even more notes, so you know you aren’t contradicting yourself or messing up versions. Example? In the new version, I wanted the lunar calendar to be accurate since it was off in the original. That doesn’t seem so hard, does it? Wrong. A good couple of chapters, as well as a symbolic part of the story, revolved around the lunar calendar, and every change I made caused certain parts of the story to be shifted around. Tension and weather patterns moved. Whole paragraphs moved. Scenes had to be deleted, and others were pushed back. Even the purpose had to change. It was possibly the most difficult part of the rewrite. That one change affected everything else. Everything.
2. Aspects You Love will be Added…and Lost.
In the end, certain things had to go. I lost some of the funnier moments and the cheesy moments, but new humor and romance was added. Old characters became better (sometimes almost unrecognizable) versions of themselves, and other characters had to take a bigger backseat than they did before. Some details weren’t necessary. Other details I never even thought of adding had to be added. A change you didn’t want might even happen simply because of the ripple effect discussed above. You can rejoice in the additions and mourn these loses. It’s okay to feel sad about a particular scene going down the drain, even if it’s miniscule. Heck, you might even keep it in case you want to write a short story that goes along with your novel. Nothing has to go away forever, but deciding what is right and what isn’t for your story is important, no matter how much it hurts. You can do it. Follow your gut.
3. Staying True to You (And the Work) is Harder Than You Think
Maybe you started writing this when the genre was hot, but now it’s not. Maybe you had a purpose that has now been done before. Maybe X numbers of things have happened since you began the story, but now your life has changed. So, you want to stay true to the story, but you have NEW challenges (and temptations). I’ve covered this before, but I truly believe my 11-year-old self was a better writer than I am today. (Read this article to see what I mean: My 11-Year-Old Self was a Better Writer) To sum it up, she was fearless. I am not. My younger self didn’t worry about things like word count or trends or paychecks or deadlines. I just wrote. Now that I’m older, it’s HARD not to worry about if the book will fit the “correct” word count so you can even try to talk to a publisher about it. This can make you feel as if you’re a square peg trying to fit into a circle hole, and sometimes, it’s tempting to make yourself a circle. But you’re not. You’re a square. As an example, the original version of Bad Bloods was 110,000 words. So, I set out to bring the book down to 80,000 words in order to “fit” the industry standard. Spoiler alert: I failed. Terribly. I actually ADDED 20,000 words, because, in the end, I realized the story was missing vital aspects. This took me a long while to accept. It was a lot of banging my head against my desk. But guess what? It worked out in the end. I signed it with Clean Teen Publishing, and they love it, word count and all. Who knows what would’ve happened if I had forced it to go the other way? Be you…even if you have no idea where it will take you.
When I first covered this topic over a year ago, I had no idea where a rewrite would take me, but I knew it was the best thing for me to do. I also acknowledge all of the doubt, tears, and frustration I had along the way. Was this scene necessary? Can I condense this? But I love that scene! This dialogue is terrible. What was I thinking? Here we go again. Should I give up? Why would I want to rewrite this anyway? Who would want a book this big? This doesn’t fit any trend right now. No publisher wants something that was previously published. Gah! What am I thinking?
Guess what? All of my doubts were wrong. My gut was right.
It worked out in the end, and I am more excited than ever before to see Bad Bloods release this summer by Clean Teen Publishing. In fact, it will be published on the nine-year anniversary of the original version.
Follow your gut no matter how much time it takes. It’s worth it.
Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM! I’ll be one of several featured authors at a Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. I’d love to see you! If you haven’t started The Timely Death Trilogy, don’t worry. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, is free!
Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:
Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:
Death Before Daylight: book 3:
You can even read The Timely Death Trilogy on your new Kindle Fire!
Clean Teen Publishing is giving one away. Enter here.