“Nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing.” – Sylvia Plath

By the end of this year, I will hopefully have 12 novels written. The majority of them are first drafts. The first novel I ever wrote (Cain) is in its fourth draft. The XIII series, which I’ve been writing on and off since 2004, is going to need a lot more work before it will ever see the light of day – whether I decide to self-publish or send it to an agent.

I would be embarrassed to send any of these novels to an agent or publisher because of the unfinished state they’re in. Sure, they’re completely written… but I haven’t even looked back at some of them since I finished the first draft. That’s why I’ve decided to make 2011 the year for revision.

My issue with revision is that I’m not entirely sure how to go about it. My hesitation paralyzes me and I end up procrastinating or starting a new novel. Revision is also much harder than the actual writing. When you write, your goal is to get the whole story on paper (or in a Word document), no matter how many flaws it may have. Later, you can take care of fixing all those flaws.

I’ve revised and rewritten Cain about four times. It’s gotten so much better since it started out as a sixteen-year-old’s ramblings. I’ve rewritten the XIII series even more times than that – and it’s also gotten better. It’s no longer the projection of two crazy high school students’ fears.

So I must have some idea of how to revise and rewrite. I know I can’t be doing it wrong, since I’ve noticed the novels changing for the better the more times I work on them. It could just be the tedium of the process holding me back.

What I’ve decided to do is devote one month of 2011 to revising each novel. I won’t be rewriting anything and the only new project I plan to start in 2011 is another NaNoWriMo novel in November. The basic plan is to write up new story outlines and decide what should be changed, added, or rearranged. I’ll be making characters, settings, and symbols clearer and sharper.

So my plan is…

January – Peter
February – Jacob
March – Jonah
April – Onan
May – David
June – XIII: Strophe
July – XIII: Antistrophe
August – XIII: Epode
September – Stephen
October – Matthew
November – Cain
December – Daniel

And then maybe, just maybe, I’ll be ready to publish one of them in 2012. 🙂

6 thoughts on ““Nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing.” – Sylvia Plath

  1. Twelve novels?! Wow.
    And if you complete NaNoWriMo this November . . . 13!!!

    That’s my favorite number. Thirteen. A Baker’s Dozen.

    Good luck with the editing.


  2. It takes me a long time to revise a novel…longer than a month. Of course, I’m only on my third, and don’t have twelve notched into my bed post already. Plus I only write when my daughter is sleeping, which doesn’t give me as much time to work as I’d like.

    Cynthea Liu had a good post in WriteOnCon a couple months ago, about how to tackle revisions. And at the moment, I’m working through Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel (workbook), and I love it.

    Okay, that’s my quota of unsolicited advice for the day.


    1. It’ll probably take me longer than just a month to revise mine, too – but it’ll at least get me a head start! Thanks so much for the advice – and good luck with your writing! 🙂


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