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Have you ever...

edited June 2010 in - Writing Problems
Read through a story you just got back from a womag to see how it can be improved, then discovered, to your horror, that it's totally BORING!

I had a story, written for a comp, which I decided would be okay to re-write trying to 'fit' the criteria for a womag. The story was quite immoral, so I had to change that bit, change one of the characters, change the beginning and the ending to make it suitable for submission to the chosen market.
It was rejected. Reading it through after rejection I found loads of waffle, unnecessary explanation and far too much telling instead of showing. I was so horrified that I went back to the original story.

Guess what - it was shorter, snappier, funnier and much better written. The moral of this story is: It is possible to make a sow's ear out of a silk purse, you just have to try to make it fit where it doesn't.

Has anyone else had this problem?


  • I realised after I'd sent my novel off to some agents (and got a few rejections back) that my first chapter was all wrong. It was too long, and took years to get to the action. Not good. So I rewrote it completely, and it's a million billion times better now. But the moment I realised that the submitted draft was, well, crap, I was like "OMG!!" *face-palm!* :rolleyes:

    Just the way it goes. Sometimes the original is better, in which case, find a market to fit the story, rather than butchering your story to fit the market. Sometimes the original is so shocking that anything would be an improvement, in which case, butcher to your little heart's content!! :D

  • I've done this with stories and my novel - it would definitely be a good idea to write a story and then put it away for several weeks before re-reading, re-editing and submitting. Not that I ever do that - I'm too keen to send things off in that first flush of 'wow, it's brilliant!', then it gets rejected and I realise why when I re-read it! :) When I had my RNA critique back for my novel, like SA I ended up doing a complete re-write and am now annoyed I sent it out in its previous state as I've used up my chances with the agents who rejected it first time round!
  • Van, perhaps you could change its title and use a pseudonym! And change the characters' names, the location, the - Or just hope a different agent reads it.
  • Casey, my novel "All About Sex" had this sentence:

    Quote: "Your friend's a nice kid," Stacy, who'd worked out that Josh was an 'ex', said to Josh. End quote.

    I managed to get it changed before the print-on-demand was finally finalised.
  • I think we've probably all done things like this.
  • They say always send off your very best work, but sometimes we get too close to it and can't see its faults. Looking at it after a break always shows up the problem areas. Moral is - never rush to send anything off. Always step back from it for a while and then see it as others see it before editing and submitting.
  • You're right, Viv: re-read after a long pause. But re-reading a whole 250-page novel is a big job :( . Needs must, though.

    But that's another problem. I've been editing and re-organising my novel for so long now that I'm worried it might be utterly boring and unintelligible, lacking any original lustre and zing.

    So that must be where the professional editing service comes in (at £400 - £500!).
  • [quote=casey]The moral of this story is: It is possible to make a sow's ear out of a silk purse, you just have to try to make it fit where it doesn't.[/quote]
    I do try to make mine go the other way: I want the silk purse as the end result, not the sow's ear. Sometimes overediting can produce the sow's ear ...
    ... but usually everything is improved by a merciless edit.
    PS I need to go and edit the roses, there are a lot of long suckers with no flowers on ...
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