Thursday, March 26, 2009

Revised Thinking: Everything is Publishable

There's nothing worse than having an awesome story in your head, and then watching it disintegrate on paper. Painful! So painful in fact, that I've got a collection of half-finished stories snoozing on my laptop.

The key is to not give up on the story, but instead to rewrite it like mad. That's according to novelist Dan Pope, whose workshop I attended last night. He should know: he wrote his entire book in three months, and then spent the next two years revising it. He helped a woman turn a book filled with language like "He go out, he not come back" into an eloquent, publishable book.

This was a woman who spoke English as a second language, who had a limited vocabulary and minimal knowledge about grammar and sentence structure. If revision can get her published, imagine what it could do for some of those snoozing stories we've all got filed away.

Dan's advice: as long as something's there, you can work that material until it's clean and meaningul (and you bleed ink).


Michele said...

So true--and very encouraging!! Keep up the great work.


Ron Samul said...

I have the same type of collection and part of my problem is that some of the stories are very strong, and others are potentially strong, but I keep comparing them to one another and not letting them thrive on their own. We should swap collections - it would be a fun way to help one another.

Colleen said...

Thanks Michele. It almost sounds too good to be true, but it's not!

Colleen said...


I hear that. And - if one part of a story's really strong, it's hard to get the rest to live up to it. That's where I'm stuck now.

I'd love to swap some writing and get/offer another perspective. Great suggestion!