Tuesday, June 28, 2011



When was the last time you revisited a manuscript or short story that's resided in your bottom desk drawer for at least several years? I've been thinking about my

first finished novel -- the one I dared to send out to publishers, written in the early 1990's. An earlier attempt at at manuscript did the rounds of my then-writing group but went no further. Thank God!

This one did do the rounds...and managed to garner an impressive array of rejection letters. I've saved every one of those letters, more for income tax purposes than for some grand gesture, like papering the walls of my office. It did get some
encouraging remarks and even went to the second draft stage. However, sadly or gladly, that editor left that major publishing house and my manuscript went no
further. So, it's been entombed in the figurative bottom drawer ever since. Although I did go on to finish number two in the series & start on book number three.

I've been giving it some thought lately, in these days of e-books and the like, wondering if it's time to dust it off, polish it up and do something with it. Like publish it. I still love the main character and I think the plot still holds.

However, time has not been kind to this novel. Since those days computers and the internet have become intrenched in our lives. It's hard to find anyone who doesn't have a cell phone. And even I-Pads, Playbooks and all the variations of e-readers are now common language, if not in common usage.

To update it would be a major revision -- not a bad thing in itself -- but it would also involved changes in plot points and structure. Not so good. Even one of the buildings central to the plot -- the CBC Radio studios in Ottawa -- have changed location and updated equipment. Not a nice thing to do to a writer!

The alternative, of course, is to leave it anchored in the early 1990's. And that would require a revision of some sort early on, to clue the reader into this. Had the plot been set fifty years earlier, it would be more apparent and the tone set much more easily. But this in-between time, barely two decades ago, is still so similar, and yet so different...well, you get the picture. Or the plot. I hope.

I still have time to think this through. I'm coming up to deadline with my second novel in my Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series with Berkley Prime Crime. At least that one's firmly entrenched in current time.

Have you encountered this dilemma in your writing? And if so, what have been your solutions?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming April, 2012
from Berkley Prime Crime

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