Resurrecting Old Manuscripts

Thursday, May 04, 2017
If you are anything like me, you have files, paper and/or electronic, full of old manuscripts. Do you ever go through them to see what is there?

That’s what I did when I saw a call for English-as-a-second-language early readers. I had written several beginning readers for a US publisher who cancelled their program before publishing the books. Surely one of those manuscripts would be a good fit if only I could remember the titles which would make them much easier to find.

Believe it or not, it was a good thing that I didn’t remember. I found those three manuscripts and drafts of two other beginning readers that I had forgotten about. These last two manuscripts were a good match for what the publisher wanted but they were so old that I couldn’t find computer files. As I retyped them, I also rewrote and spotted a lack of tension in the first. Apparently I’ve grown as a writer over the last decade. Who’da thought! The second manuscript would work with just a few tweaks. It is currently being held by the publisher to see if it fills any gaps in what they have in terms of reading level. Fingers crossed!

When another publisher called for possible e-books, I flipped through my files and found a rebus that had gone nowhere. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the rebus format, that is a story that combines text with images. The images take the place of nouns throughout the story and the young pre-reader, usually a preschooler, can fill in the words as the story is read aloud.

A rebus is a lot shorter than an e-book but I fleshed the story out, adding more attempts and failures. I also jazzed up the onomatopoeia and other sound related words. After all this was going to be an e-book so I wanted to take advantage of a few electronic possibilities. The manuscript was accepted! Sadly it was never produced because the publisher folded, but that doesn’t mean I can’t resurrect it again as soon as I find another potential home for it.

Don’t draft a new manuscript every time you see a call for something in particular. Instead, look through your files and see if you have something that you can give new life. It will help you make better use of your time and get more work out there where your readers can enjoy it.

After all, isn’t that why we do what we do?


To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins June 12th. 


Margo Dill said...

This is good advice! I also love when I am looking over old stuff and think: Who wrote this? It doesn't even sound like me. . .sometimes, that is good and sometimes not so much. :)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--I know prolific (and smart) writers like you do this on a regular basis. I occasionally do it. It's wonderful advice and I agree--when I have to retype something, I see it with fresh eyes and edit/revise as I go.

Angela Mackintosh said...

You've inspired me to look through my old manuscripts and see if any relate to current calls! Now that I'm thinking about it, it would be nice to have an excel spreadsheet of manuscripts, stories, articles, posts, etc that I've written and a brief description of the subjects and themes. I have some work on three old computers and a laptop that I need to pull together. I can't even remember everything I've written. Thanks for the idea, Sue! :)

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