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Writing Life

Knowing when to put aside manuscripts

How do you know when it’s time to shove the story you’ve been working on for ages aside and work on something else? I don’t really have the answer for this. Whenever I started writing, I worked on short stories here and there, flash fiction etc. but I consider "Road to Array" my first novel (although it is more of a novella at 55K words).

I started working on Road to Array (originally titled Saving Katherine) in the summer of 2006. I completed this "first draft" by the end of the summer and this was posted on fictionpress. However, it didn’t take long for reviewers to point out numerous plot holes which is never good for a mystery by the way. So I went to work on my second draft working with reviews/feedback of my readers. This second draft took longer than my writing time of the first draft but it was okay. The plot had changed, it was tighter, etc. and improvement was noticed. By now it was sometime in early 2007.

Still I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to get a "beta" or critique partner to view the story, another writer preferably with interest in the genre (though not required) and who was thorough. I also wanted to take a break from the manuscript because it’s tough to work on something after reading and rereading it for the past six months. So I shelved it for a while, wrote my second story, and then in the end of 2007 found  a critique partner to work with.

The third rewrite was a complete overhaul. Characters’ point of views were nixed (multiple povs are my trip up point-something I plan to discuss in a future post) and at the end I felt confident that I was ready for querying.

So I did my research over christmas 2008 to early 2009, then started querying. The results were mentioned in my very first blog post. To put it plainly, I got a number of form rejections from agencies.

Now, I follow blogs of other authors and Mandy Hubbard is an inspirational example of working through rejections and pushing through multiple rewrites but it’s been four years since I started Road to Array/Saving Katherine and I feel like I am losing the characters, that I’ve torn, shredded and reassembled the story so much that I do not recognize it anymore. Maybe this first attempt at a novel is supposed to remain a first attempt and I should put it away and focus on other projects instead of continuously coming back to it.

I do not know when or how to know when to draw the line.

Does anyone else have experiences like this? Any advice? I would love your comments.

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