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.


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?


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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