Many agents and editors will advise you to leave the old stuff where it belongs. In the trunk or entertaining the dust bunnies. To a certain extent I totally agree with this because, that old stuff is often terribly written and poorly thought through. It is an author's learning curve. What she/he practises upon and to take old work and try to revive it is often impossible.

I read an article about this this very morning.

There are things I've trunked. Horrible romances that I wrote years ago. Short stories that refused to be short or just didn't go anywhere. The odd novel which just wouldn't work. But that still leaves quite a few that do deserve to see the light of day. I am working on one of those older ones now. It is interesting because you can't really work from old scripts except as reference, because the language needs a total update. Which in turn creates new scenarios and gets rid of older ones. Like why on earth did I keep swapping point of view every five seconds? Not head hopping but brief interludes which threw even me out of the story. And really, that complex character you created? If even I don't understand him, what hope a poor reader?

Urgh.

It is still a damned good story though.
 


Comments

01/03/2013 4:32am

I have a few "trunked" novels I know are good. You might remember "Sordaneon." I think it's good. But I never really pushed hard enough to get an agent or publisher for it. I probably should have subbed to more than 12 agents. :)

But gosh, I have some dreadful stuff sitting in boxes in my basement. I think every writer has books and stories like that. Nice try books... experimental stories. They served their purpose, which was to fail and teach the writer a few lessons.

In the last few years, I've learned a lot about writing... not just the craft, but the business. Query letters matter. So do those first few pages. Books are expected to start out of the gates running. Now I know how to recognize when they limp.

I look forward to reading your un-trunked books!

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Susan Curnow
01/03/2013 9:05am

It was an interesting article - http://janefriedman.com/2012/12/29/how-long-to-get-published/
but as I said, I didn't agree one hundred percent. Sometimes books aren't picked up by sheer bad luck, not because they are bad. "Sordaneon" is a great example of that. I *loved* those books and they were beautifully written. The kind I would go back to again and again. But there is wisdom in not banging one's head against the proverbial wall.

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Tali Spencer
01/03/2013 2:53pm

I know what you mean about head-banging. After a while, the frustration can become toxic. :( Believing in oneself as an author, or even in a book, also means believing in yourself enough to write another book, maybe a better one. And the first book(s), if it really is good, can still have a chance down the road.

I'm going to be submitting my early work again... now that I know how to write a query letter and all. :) And if that doesn't work, I know how to self-publish and maybe readers who enjoy my other work will find those books, too.

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