October 6th, 2013

An Old Novel/Time-sink

I've spent the last two weeks line-editing a novel called "Mars Looks Different" that I started ten years ago and never finished. It was an eye-opening experience. I finish the edits, which were almost entirely to tighten what I wrote so long ago, which also let me get familiar with the characters again. I cut roughly 21,000 of the 77,000 words I had written, which was painful, but necessary. The old writing stunk up the place, needed to be tightened.

As I think I mentioned a month or two ago, I rewrote several scenes from scratch a couple years ago and added a few more scenes. The contrast between the new and old scenes was striking. The old stuff had some decent dialog and good ideas, but when I hit one of the new sections it was like seeing stick figures on a chalk board suddenly turn into human beings in a room. A couple times I ran into places where I had just added a couple of paragraphs last time through and I could immediately pick them out.

The good takeaway: I'm a lot better writer than I was ten years ago. The bad takeaway: Even with the tightening, the old stuff is nowhere near up to my current standards. In reality, very little of it is usable, even with the edits. It needs rewriting. That's not what I was hoping for, but reality is reality. I was hoping to edit the old stuff up to par and then finish the novel this year. I'm not giving up on the project, but it looks like it'll take a little longer to get finished.