Blog #16 by novelist Jeremy Logan -- Trashing a Portion of Your Storyline and Other Revisions
For the umpteenth time I was watching an interview of a novelist or great actor when I heard the same answer to the most common question. Have you seen your new movie or conducted readings of your new novel? The answer is usually: No!
Until I started writing novels I couldn't figure out why that was the most common reply. Now I get it, and do I get it. The reason they don't is because every time they see themselves on the screen or read their work, all they see are deficiencies. It's self-torture. As we get more experience at our craft we get better. Looking at a previous work always shows ourselves in a less refined, less professional and immature state. We can even be ashamed of our prior products. And that's we can't watch or re-read our work.
After putting away my second novel for a while and then picking it back up, it became obvious to me that there were several deficiencies. First, the title had to go. What was I thinking? The next big thing was the ending. It was too obvious. There was no real surprise or doubt. Last night I finished rewriting the ending for the second time. Is it better? It's way better, but is it super? I won't know until put it away for a while and pick it back up again. It takes a brain with a clean slate to make that kind of judgment.
My first novel went through about twenty rewrites. And to this day I'm afraid to reread it. If I ever get picked up by a major publisher with a skilled editor I will certainly take that opportunity to correct the flaws and re-publish it, but until then, I can't bear to reread it.
My second novel has now gone through two complete revisions. Tomorrow I will start the third reread and self-editing. I just hope it's not so bad that I get discouraged. I'm sticking to my March 31st publishing date for now, but it's going to be a struggle to get it to the point that I'm satisfied it's ready.