1. Hublocker

    Hublocker Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2018
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    75

    How do I rewrite this beast?

    Discussion in 'Revision and Editing' started by Hublocker, Dec 2, 2021.

    I submitted a memoir to a publisher and he responded with the following letter:

    “I read it and enjoyed it. Whether there is a commercial book there is another matter. It needs a bit more work, there's some repetition between the stories. Also it is written as a series of anecdotes and now that it's done probably would benefit from some work to give it more of a story arc. There isn't a lot of your home town’s history beyond your family and I wonder if an effort to sketch in the character of the town and the region might not be out of place since there has been so little in print. The town was booming for awhile with the mine, logging going full tilt and the cannery serving a healthy fishing fleet--all gone now. Maybe that is getting too far from your personal story but I think a bit of background would give the story more marketability. As it is, it is a well-written, sensitive slice of coastal life. And that is good. I could see some parts fitting into a future edition of our regional story collection.

    Anyway, congratulations on a nice piece of work.”

    So folks, how do I rewrite this 73,000 word to his satisfaction?
     
    Mckk and evild4ve like this.
  2. Idiosyncratic

    Idiosyncratic Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2014
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    156
    Currently Reading::
    Six of Crows
    Reading this letter, it sounds like a very positive personalized rejection to me, not a revise and resubmit, meaning that you don’t need to revise to this specific publishers satisfaction. (Revise and resubmitts normally give much more feedback and explicitly state they want you to resubmit)

    That doesn’t mean the advice they gave wasn’t good though. One of the hardest things about writing memoir is deciding what story you’re going to tell. It’s not just the story of your life, you want some sort of structure, some theme and through line just like you would a fiction novel. This is incredibly difficult because life doesn’t follow a nice linear storyline. Still, for editing, that’s where I would begin, brainstorming what kind of story you want to tell, and which pieces of your life fit into that story. As for the advice to add more setting, that’s up to you to see if it works, and if it does you can add it in bits and prices through out.
     
    peachalulu likes this.
  3. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2021
    Messages:
    1,753
    Likes Received:
    1,781
    Wow, what a nice response! Read it over again- he tells you what he thinks it needs. He also says, " I could see some parts fitting into a future edition of our regional story collection." Check into the regional story collections, see what they contain, and maybe adapt part of your memoir in anticipation of submitting for the same. Can't hurt, even if the best you get from it is practice and perhaps an article for a regional magazine.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Hublocker

    Hublocker Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2018
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    75
    I have been reading those story collections since they first started coming out in 1972.
     
    Catriona Grace likes this.
  5. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2017
    Messages:
    1,068
    Likes Received:
    2,385
    I think he's asking you for an interlinked collection. Something like "Olive Kitteridge" or "Visit from the Goon Squad," as examples. The stories are independent, but there are questions asked in some stories that aren't answered until later. That builds arcs (and unreleased tension) to the end. I see some sites say "Good Scent From a Strange Mountain" counts, but . . . I don't know. That had a common theme but I don't remember a plot line stretching to the end. I might be forgetting though. "Oscar Wao" also did this, I feel. That's such a good book! It probably stayed on certain characters too long though to be considered as short stories. It was more like a series of linked acts.

    Go read Goon Squad and see how they did it there. Each story is complete, but characters keep reappearing and you understand their motivations, or you're still following their arcs because they're not really done. There's a common set of characters, sometimes just operating in the background and not really seen, and they hold things together too. Events are mentioned in early stories and only explained/shown in later stories. When you reach them, there's a lift in tension because you realize that now it's going to finally be spelled out. With other characters moving through the parts the way they do and still developing, it makes it pretty compelling.

    I'm not real sure how you'd shape an existing set of stories into this. This type of approach takes extreme planning/plotting, I think. It might be possible though depending on what you have. Somehow the stories have to be "aware" of each other and point the reader forward. You might have to add more stories to flesh it out and get it connected.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2021
  6. Hublocker

    Hublocker Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2018
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    75
    Thank you.
     
  7. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2021
    Messages:
    1,753
    Likes Received:
    1,781
    Oops. Forgive my two cents worth. ;)
     
  8. Hublocker

    Hublocker Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2018
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    75
    No sweat. Y0u had no idea.

    I even thought at the time at 19 "I should be writing this stuff" but I didn't have the confidence or the skill to pull it off. Almost all of the stories in my collection occurred before I was 18, but since then I have written several hundred thousands of words in newspaper and magazine articles as well as numerous unpublished novels so I might be approaching the skill level required to put out my own collection if I can shape it right.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice