View Full Version : 55,000 words.. rewrite or put aside and start anew?

August 22nd, 2018, 05:49 PM
Hi all,

About 4 years ago I wrote a fictional autobiography with a friend. It's finished and isn't too bad, and it's been edited a couple times since we wrote it and I've even read it aloud. Since we are no longer friends, I'm now stuck with what to do with this 55,000 words, all the drafts and documents and research. I have an idea for a modified version of this novel, where it is written as a biography by the main character's widow.

For this new idea, I have things I definitely want to include from the old novel, but most of it changes. So now I don't know if I should take the original novel I wrote with my friend and take it apart, change it, and put it together again, of if I accept the old novel as 55,000 words of writing improvement and practice, and start this new project.

God, help me! ha!

August 22nd, 2018, 09:15 PM
I would start over, personally.

You can still refer to the original work and even take chunks from it but if there's any drastic changes, which you say they are, I tend to personally prefer starting clean. 55,000 words is a lot to tinker with.

Also, since you put this in publishing, I am going to tell you from a publishing standpoint that autobiographies fictional or not are a tough sell. Unless you have a uniquely impressive story that can command attention without celebrity, I would recommend you approach the work as 100% fiction. There's nothing wrong with keeping it as a roman a clef and including autobiographical elements to the plot (many novels have that) but I wouldn't tout it as being autobiographical.

Ralph Rotten
August 23rd, 2018, 02:51 AM
"fictional autobiography"
That's a thing?

If you wrote this with another writer, you may not actually own the WHOLE rights to this work.
I'd call it practice and write something new. Scars is right when he says that biographies are a hard sell unless the subject is either famous, or did something mind-boggling.

August 23rd, 2018, 04:53 AM
"fictional autobiography"
That's a thing?

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. Virtually anything by Hunter S. Thompson...

Any "autobiography" where what are presented as facts are open to some degree of exaggeration or ambiguity and written in a way that prioritizes a good story over veracity.

August 23rd, 2018, 02:15 PM
Thank you for the info and input. I am definitely leaning towards starting anew, and a roman a clef is not the worst thing this new project could turn into.. Thanks again!!

August 23rd, 2018, 03:41 PM
Any "autobiography" where what are presented as facts are open to some degree of exaggeration or ambiguity and written in a way that prioritizes a good story over veracity.

I think you just described the book that I am currently contemplating writing. In fact in the introduction I was planning to explain its potentially fictional but yet factually autobiographical nature. The factual side involves my actual experiences while the potentially fictional side involves my personal perceptions of these. The human interest aspect comes, to my mind, from the extent to which I allowed my perceptions to drive my reactions to the experiences and my daily life to be affected. If the story were about madness in the face of sane situations then it might be considered run of the mill, but I regard my story as one of sanity in the face of mad situations, which could prove far more interesting.

Of course I don't need to sell my story for it to be a success in my eyes. All I need is one copy of it on the shelves in the library of the Society for Psychical Research in London and I will be immortal, at least among people whose sanity actually gives me some cause for doubt. I already have my name on a plaque on a wall elsewhere where future generations will see it for potentially the rest of this century (depending on how well the building was built of course) so what else is there to achieve? (By coincidence my angel and I are going to watch a performance of the musical Fame tonight with its memorable theme song Remember My Name. Enough said.)

However, getting back to the topic in hand, my story only covers a relatively short but interesting period in my life, so it is autobiographical in nature but not a life story as such. Few people have had lives that were interesting from beginning to end, so I would agree that full autobiographies are likely to have a limited readership and fictional ones even more so unless there is a clear theme that extends throughout that life, such as a birth defect that needs to be overcome or some other long term challenge or conflict. Surely fiction has to have a plot of some sort, doesn't it?

55,000 words written in collaboration with someone else is to my mind practice.

August 24th, 2018, 05:42 PM
55,000 words written in collaboration with someone else is to my mind practice.

I guess that you're right, not only is it practice but a hard sell.

September 5th, 2018, 10:18 AM
I agree with Luckyscars and would say start over.

The first novel I wrote took me about 3 years to write and edit. I finally decided I was never going to get it perfect, so Iíve now put it to one side and think of it as writing experience.

I have read many times that not all writing needs to be written with the intent of getting it published.

February 19th, 2019, 03:02 AM
i'm a lil late, but I'd also say start anew. Any practice is good practice, and this probably helped a lit

August 14th, 2019, 12:44 PM
I've had a long running book, and I took a long break from it. When I returned I saw many problems so I started over. And the second complete rewrite ended up being much better. So a full rewrite now that you have the full story planned out would be better.