Reacquainting with Old Friends (or Novels)

Now that classes have come to a close and I have time to breathe again, it’s high time to spend some time with my current WIP: the steampunk/fantasy/sci-fi novel (that currently still needs a title).

When I opened it earlier to start rereading the 20,983 words that have already been written, I realized something terribly sad. It’s the first time I’ve opened the document since January 2nd. Not just edited. Flat out opened it. I knew the second semester was hard, but I didn’t realize that it had been neglected for so long.

One of the hardest things about spending five months away from a partly complete novel is reacclimating to the world, the characters, and the outline of a plot. The only completed draft is a rushed NaNoWriMo version that needs serious work. It’s hardly a first draft. Just a smattering of words thrown on the page to see what can happen.

After some consideration, I suppose there are only a few ways to reacquaint myself with this project: reread everything that I’ve written so far. Not only does that include the 51 page draft (which I remember being fairly happy with back in January) but also reviewing all of the notes in the novel’s notebook.

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Every novel has its own notebook. This one just seemed to fit somehow.

 

I know some of them have been scrapped, but one of the most important reasons to keep the notebook is to remember ideas, and it seems remember where I was planning to go after an all-too-long absence.

What do you do when you’re returning to an unfinished product after a long hiatus? How do you reacclimate to stories that you haven’t touched in a while?

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2 responses to “Reacquainting with Old Friends (or Novels)

  • Anthony Lee Collins

    When I went back to my first novel, after about a decade away from it, I basically started at the beginning to rewrite it. I had learned a lot in the interim (on novel #2) and wanted to apply it. For the final third of the book, where I didn’t even have a draft to work from, I had to change the POV, because I couldn’t write in the same voice anymore.

    I don’t make a lot of notes, so when I’m going back to a project I have to re-read what I wrote before and then try to figure out what should happen next.

    • S.B. Roberts

      I think I’d have to start rewriting if it’d been 10 years too. :) It’s amazing how much there is to learn along the way and how differently stories look after even a short period away.

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