Douglas L Perry, The Author blog

May 20, 2009

Writer’s Remorse

Filed under: Thoughts — douglaslperry @ 3:29 am
Tags: , , , ,

If there is such a thing as writer’s remorse, I think I’ve got it. I just finished my third novel and now I wish I could start over again. I’m sure it’s not that bad, but the fact that it’s done tells me that I can’t go back and make major changes. I can’t start over from scratch. 

I’ve seen this many times with new home buyers. They look for months to find the right home, work hard to get the financing in place, and do the deal. Right after they sign the papers, they start to wonder if they’ve done the right thing. They immediately start to wonder if they paid too much, they worry that the family room is too small, that they don’t like the tile in the bathroom, and a hundred other things. Yep, that’s buyer’s remorse. 

The same thing happens when they buy a new car. The next day they find the same model cheaper, with more options… the list goes on and on. 

I guess that’s what happens when I finish a novel. I should be celebrating the completion, and I do for a few hours, but then, the writer’s remorse kicks in. That’s where I’m at right now. I’m thinking that the main character needs to want something different from the start of the book. I’m thinking that I need to drop more hints about the bad guy earlier. I’m thinking that maybe the main character should have been a guy. 

I’m going to read it through one more time over the next few days, and we’ll see. I’m probably not going to change it, but I might.


  1. I had the same problem. I actually changed the genders of some people. That is to avoid the predictability of the bad guy. Hey, like what they said. Writing is also rewriting and rewriting and rewriting until you get it right. And guess what? I think I need to change the tittle, too.

    Great blogs, by the way.

    Romina Wilcox

    Comment by Romina Wilcox — May 20, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

  2. although I tend to agree w/ you more time than not on all things writerly, doug, i think i must disagree this once. i don’t think the analogy works at all. Homes & cars should be in the best shape possible priot to buying. But finishing a book? It’s just the first step.

    Revision means exactly that: to re-vision or re-see or to look at again w/ new eyes. Your book can only be better for that clarity; and honestly? one’s writerly instincts generally sound off for a reason. Go with your gut! 🙂

    Comment by Alex Moore — May 21, 2009 @ 3:20 am

  3. It is a bit of a stretch isn’t it? And it was just the way that I was feeling last night. I’m better today. I was kind of in a funk because I started re-reading and didn’t like what I read. It seemed like a big deal to change it because it seemed fundamental to the story. It’s not…

    Comment by douglaslperry — May 21, 2009 @ 4:14 am

  4. all writers have a different method — but honestly? I have to put my “finished product” away for several months before I can come back to it and properly assess it.

    if i look at it immediately, i’ll be in a horrible funk. i don’t have the energy to commit to such an overhaul or whatever…later on, i tend to have boundless enthusiasm for the revision 🙂

    good luck w/ yours…and congrats on finishing a third book! woo!!

    Comment by Alex Moore — May 22, 2009 @ 2:21 am

  5. Hi Doug,
    I came over from your Adventures in Writing blog, and you got my attention with this post. I’m at the same place. I just finished the first draft of a fantasy YA that I know I’m going to really change. I can feel it in the way I consider the story now and know I need to add some dimensions I haven’t even thoroughly devised yet. It’s daunting to think about, and I find myself doing other tasks instead.
    But at least at this stage, we can change it. I heard a funny story from another writer once. He was promoting his book in Ireland and went out with a well-published Irish author to some bookstores. The other author took out a pen and started writing revisions in books on the shelves — his own books that he wanted to rectify something he didn’t like! Whoa.

    Comment by Pat O'Brien — May 29, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

  6. If you have no deadlines, give yourself a month after finishing it. Start a new book. If you have a deadline, line edit it and make the grammar readable then shuffle it off to critiquers, find the commonality of what they are saying, make your major changes, and then go back and edit it like no tomorrow.

    Major ones for me were: even as modifier and -ly adverbs. (Both signs of lazy writing). That, I think one can do on their own. I had a lot of trouble with “Only” as well. Gah. Shaved my manuscript by at least 1,000 words.

    Use your search and destroy as the blessing of the modern word processor allows it for those kinds of things.

    But I would suggest trying a new shiny manuscript, while this one is at rest.

    I’ve heard that ideally, one should be being edited, one should be being written and one should be at rest and one should be being submitted. (For me, it never happens this way My ratio right now is something like 3:2:0:0 and the short story ratio is– 5:3:?:1, if you are lucky, it does for you).

    Consider yourself lucky at this point, I “finished” a manuscript about 2 years ago, but had to rewrite the whole thing twice over (The first chapter was rewritten 7 times over) with each incarnation entirely different from the last incarnation. I’m on my third round of rewrites finding that I needed more chapters to fill out the word count and formatting. So it can get much, much worse. So from my end of things, the revisions you need look cosmetic, no matter what they are. =P. <– this one is Sci-fi/fantasy/adventure/comedy/noir? while the shaved one is Women's lit.

    @Alex Moore Can you send us something that would make your enthusiasm contagious?

    I keep reading my manuscript and going, you can do better. WTH? Why did you write that? Dead sentence. OMG, you did it again. I wish I wrote this in Scrivener… because then the stupid repetitions wouldn't be all over the place. I must suck as a writer because this scene is confusing. Huh? I don't even know what I meant here. I regret watching all those Asian dramas because I'm picking up grammar from those languages. Too many sentences using a leading "it." *cries over manuscript* I see indirect action. "would" WTH is that? When was that ever a good idea. OMG, every page I have has mistakes. Why am I comma phobic? Oh, hyphen phobic too. Anti-semi-colon… unconnected sentences. *headdesk* That's not proper English. Please tell me I improved a little. *depressed* I suck. I'll never get published.

    I think that's pretty close to the revising process for me….

    Comment by racheludin — June 1, 2009 @ 1:59 pm

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