So you’ve dragged your manuscript from the depths of the trunk or bottom drawer, tucked away for the last few years under a pile of warranties for goods you no longer own and a bundle of birthday cards you haven’t had the heart to throw out. Or maybe, like me, you’d sentenced it to literary life imprisonment, stamped with the words ‘Never To Be Released’.
But you decide to give it a reprieve, brush off the dust and settle down to read it. You wince a lot at your over-written sentences, flowery descriptions and cliches. Or maybe the writing’s not too bad but your characterisation is patchy and your plot is full of holes. After all, you’ve grown a lot as a person and a writer since you wrote it.
But if, when you come to the end, you think, ‘Even with its faults it’s a good story,’ you’re on the right path to falling in love with your novel again. Here’s how to rekindle the passion:
My trunk novel Perfect Sex takes place in the milieu of internet dating. At the time I’d dabbled in the waters a bit myself and an idea occurred to me – ‘What if you dated as many men as you could and then wrote a book based on your experiences?’ That was the starting point for my novel, in which my protagonist does that very thing, with unexpected consequences.
I remember jumping out of my chair and punching the air after typing the words ‘The End’. It was 6.30pm on a Friday night and I was due to meet friends at 7pm for dinner, so was able to celebrate in style. It was only the first draft and there was still lots to do, but for a brief period I felt ten feet tall.
Taking yourself back to the time you were writing it will help you re-capture your initial enthusiasm for your novel. Like thinking back to your first dates with your spouse/partner and re-living that first flush of excitement.
Fortunately for me, internet dating is still as popular today as it was when I wrote the first draft of Perfect Sex in 2003. But there are certain aspects I have to update – small details such as giving everyone iPhones instead of mobile phones and larger changes such as having my protagonist publish her novel as an e-book instead of/as well as traditional publishing.
I’ve decided that some of my minor characters are cliched, so one of my aims is to make them more quirky and interesting, while still ensuring they stick to their supporting role and don’t try to take over the story. An interesting challenge!
Of course there are many other aspects of your novel you’ll need to look at, but the plot and the characters are usually the most obvious on your first re-read.
Think back to your inspiration for your novel, find your niche in the marketplace and make a list of the changes needed to make it stronger, tighter and more relevant and – voila! You’re in love again!
Have I missed anything? Do you think love a second time round can work? (when it comes to novels, that is).
Robin Storey is an Australian author from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She is a certified book nerd and has no weird hobbies or unusual pets.