When to Give Up on a Manuscript

editor/publisher of CommuterLit

Copyright is held by the author.

Do you have a first draft stuck in a drawer somewhere? Perhaps you tried shopping it around and got nowhere; or perhaps you shelved it because you recognize it needs mega-work. So what are you going to do with it? Ditch it or fix it?

Here’s how I decide:

1. I read the draft again only when I have gained some distance from it. I may have to wait a couple of weeks, a few months or a year.

2. Upon reading it, I gauge my first impression. Does it stink to high heavens, or does it hold up?

3. If I can, I make a list of all the things that need to be fixed. If I can’t figure it out by myself, I may decide to seek advice from a beta reader, members of my writing group, or a professional editor, or I may decide to put it back in the drawer for a while in hopes that time will give me some clarity.

4. If I know what I have to do, I estimate how much work and time it will take to fix it.

5.Then I gauge if I’m still interested enough to make the effort.

The last is the most important question: if I’m just not into it anymore and can’t see myself ever being back in that head space again, I go on to the next story.