Moving on from a Dead Novel

Some things are simple to do whilst others will kick your guts before they’re even considered possible. Leaving behind a novel that you have poured courage and wisdom into can be just one of those moments.

Let’s power up the flux capacitor and rewind to the tale of The Last Strider. April 2007 saw me begin my first full length novel (post stories written when I was wee tall at school). It involved a domestic cat with a sinister curse, set in a fantasy world torn by war, aimed for the YA market. For 4.5 years, I went from 150k to 80k to 68k. Edit after edit saw changes in POV, voice, characters, hooks, the arcs and the overall content. I kept going, never wanting to give up. I believed in it more that Quasimodo did in his hunch.

Groan. It was my baby. Come here TLS, oh, aren’t you an adorable book. Yes, you are.

BUT, it was never going to be.

The main character in TLS was a cat, and that pushed my book into the realms of Anthropomorphism. And from that point,  knew I had the hardest sell of the lot when approaching Literary Agents. Now, in terms of yourself, you may not be writing a book about cats, but can you hear a voice warning you of how uncommercial your work is?

In November 2011, I accepted of my accord that TLS was a dead novel. It just wasn’t going to work for me in the big wide world. It wasn’t commercially viable.

Sometimes you have to listen to what the industry says. [I asked agents, indie publishers, and the public]. Most told me that a talking animal book would be just a dream… and I listened. Sure, I had a few sleepless nights, and each morning, I tried to argue with my Gollum self that I could reinvent the novel to counter the issues.

TLS died, and to bring back the writing spark within, I started a new novel. That’s the key to moving on from a dead novel. Don’t mope. Don’t wait for someone to pick you up and say I want to invest in you. No. Accept it. Move on. Bring something fantastically new to the table.

Since Nov, I’ve completed a new novel, and am now close to finishing draft one of another novel That’s 2 in five months, in comparison to 5 years on one. Now where would I be If I hadn’t plucked the courage to give up on TLS. Yes, I know, the boy scout motto is to never give up. But when a novel’s legs teeter on collapse, change your focus to something else.

Sometimes, you have to treat your work like a bad chapter, a bad paragraph, a bad word, a bad piece of chocolate, a badly cooked leg of chicken, or a bad movie, and dare I say it . . . a bad book. Can you change it and make it better? If not, get rid.

If you’re not planning on the Traditional route of submitting to a Literary Agent, then consider how many readers you will lose by self-publishing a badly written/poorly judged ebook. Bad work can follow us like an infected sting. Always look beyond the end of the road to the next turn, for there, a new novel awaits you.

In death, there is life, not the end.


Written by Imran Siddiq @flickimp

Leicester, United Kingdom. Not published, but working hard on getting there.