If you haven’t already heard, I’m currently in the process of rewriting my first novel, Letters from Linc, so that I can release the ten year anniversary edition. It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the book was published. On the other hand, I can tell it’s been a long time since this book was published. There’s nothing like doing a rewrite of a ten year old book to make your flaws as writer so glaringly obvious that you cringe when you read it.
Before I go on, let me make one thing clear. I love Letters from Linc. The book opened a lot of doors for me in the writing world and also brought some amazing people into my life. I’ve been contacted by strangers who have told me of the positive impact it had on their lives. As much as I love Linc, the passage of time has allowed me to see where it can be improved.
The first thing jumping out at me is the heavy use of adverbs. I once had an editor tell me I was addicted to using adverbs. Until she pointed it out, I never thought much of it. I grew up reading books that used adverbs to describe dialogue so it made sense to me to use it when I was a writer. Now I know better. Instead of writing that Linc excitedly said something, I should describe Linc’s excitement. Show the readers he is excited instead of telling them.
Speaking of showing readers versus telling them, there are a number of passages in Letters from Linc in which I told the readers what happened. Looking at those passages ten years later, I recognize how I screwed up by telling the readers what happened instead of showing them.
Some scenes are either too short and the reader would benefit from seeing more of what happened while others should be cut because they don’t advance the story. There is also a point where I feel I rushed too quickly to reunite the main characters. The separation of the two was ten days long but the story didn’t expand on that and show readers what it needed to. Instead, it told readers that it happened and then a few pages later told them it was over and the story moved on.
I’m also ashamed to admit there are some editing mistakes. Words are missing or the wrong word is used; a word spell check wouldn’t alert me to because the word was spelled correctly. For example, saying lightening when I meant lightning. There are also some punctuation errors as well as too many dialogue tags in some scenes.
It’s amazing what a few years will do to your perspective on your story. Ten years ago, I probably would not have found most of this. Wait, I obviously didn’t realize it given that I moved forward with publishing the novel. Nothing like ten years to help a writer improve their craft and make her second guess her early work, but I guess I should look for that silver lining.
Okay, my first novel had some problems. Dare I say, it sucked? At least I’ve grown and learned and will be righting those wrongs.