Do you ever get that nagging feeling your manuscript is going nowhere?
Try as you might, you just can’t get out of whatever corner you’ve written yourself into.
Instead of throwing your manuscript in a drawer to fester for all of eternity, why not consider ways you can save your hard work?
Here are a few strategies you can use to salvage your writing failures (no matter how bad!):
A do-over entails taking the same premise, plot, characters and other elements of your story, and simply starting again.
Some good reasons to choose a do-over include:
- You’ve only written a (smallish) portion of your manuscript.
- You still love the main elements of your story and believe they have potential.
- You feel you just got off to a bad start.
- You don’t think editing will be enough.
The catch? You can’t look at your first attempt. Doing so would only make it likely you’ll reproduce a manuscript that’s too similar, including all of it faults.
Instead, review the story in your head, visualizing the end product. When you have a good sense of where you want to go, start fresh.
Revamping your story means changing major aspects of its plot, characters, setting, style, tone, or even genre. This process can be done by editing what you’ve already written, or by re-writing it in part.
The revamp might be a good choice for you if:
- Your story has some strong elements and some weak ones
- You’ve written a significant amount and it’s too late for a complete do-over
- In retrospect, you see areas of your manuscript that could be improved by changing one or more fundamentals
Though the end product will bear similarities to your original draft, the idea is to come up with something superior in its differences.
The Manuscript Marriage
Maybe you have two lonely manuscripts, neither of which are standing very well on their own. The manuscript marriage involves taking two (or more) partially-completed projects and combining them to make something better.
This could work well if:
- Your manuscripts would be better off combined into one than being left the way they are
- You haven’t written too much of either (otherwise this would be a really huge task)
- They share similarities in theme, character, plot, etc.
You don’t have to try to combine all of both manuscripts–you might just marry a few elements from each.
You intended it to be a novel. You’ve written 150 pages or more. And now you’re sinking.
Instead of completely scrapping it, why not pare-down that novel into a short story?
This might be an option if:
- Your story is simply not long enough to be a novel
- You find yourself padding your manuscript to make it longer
- Your story focuses on a single incident or occurs over a short period of time
- You can isolate a chunk of your novel and change it into a self-contained short story
Remember, it’s better to come out of the situation with a well-written short piece than with a poorly-written long piece.
Next time you find your project going astray, don’t throw away hundreds of hours of work; instead, consider some of these ways to build upon, or edit, your work into something more effective.
What strategies do you use to save a dying piece of writing?