Nice little fixer-upper
That’s Australian for renovation, just as a service-station in is a servo, I am Dave-o and Oh is Oh-o. Really. Would I come the raw prawn on you?*
What happens in reno is quite different to what happens in Vegas (or even vagus, for the nervous). It doesn’t stay there for starters. Home reno is major entertainment and aspiration for millions of Australians, which is not surprising as: 1)Our homes are made of ticky-tacky 2)They’re ridiculously expensive, and constitute a far too large a part of our economy, expenses and most dangerously, savings. But that aside, there are major similarities between this and taking that book that you’ve had in your bottom drawer, or have profound dissatisfaction with and working it into something else. Note: I do not say ‘better’. That, like in many a house reno, is not a foregone conclusion.
The first step is always to actually have a house. I say this as the guy engaged in putting up a shed with the management, and having her planning the alterations to it already. We hadn’t got the walls up before they were, so to speak, already coming down to make way for the expansion. Without actually joking at all: this is one of the hurdles that so many writers fall at. They’re already doing home improvements and major changes – often in totally different directions and giving up on one to focus on another LONG before they get to four walls and a roof. The end result is a lot of wall panels – none of which attach to the others, none of which belong properly together and none of which will ever be finished.
My advice (and it is my advice that works for me, maybe not you): Get it done. Get your basic working structured story finished. THEN start fixing, adding and altering… if it needs it.
My second step would be to realize that this is not a ‘reno to give me the kitchen/story I always wanted.’ That’s fine and noble – but it won’t sell your book (or your house) unless you’re lucky. And luck is nice, but I’m the sort of guy who is unlucky when that is all I am relying on. The purpose of the reno is make the book/house attractive to someone else. And here’s a clue-by-four. The dream kitchen in a shambles of a house, or the great 21st century kitchen that seems tacked onto a 1970’s style house (even if both are immaculate) are no way to top dollar, if they sell at all. And this is something else that seems to bypass so many writers. You wrote the book 20 years ago. Couldn’t sell it, and wouldn’t act on the advice first readers or editors gave about say needing a love interest, or more action, or more of a certain villain… and now as time has allowed you to come to grips with that being good advice… (I’ve got a few of these) you try to write those bits in.
And they’re GOOD. They’re like the dream kitchen.
The dream kitchen attached to the 1970’s house.
If you ever watch any of those TV programs so popular in Oz –like ‘Escape to the Country’ or various house redecorating-to-sell shows… the same reaction comes again and again from potential buyers ‘did not flow’. It’s not just the spice that needs to do that. As often as not it’s a failure to blend often very good separate sections of a house together. This is doubly true of your book (or at least mine). There might be sections that work, repairs or extensions… but that has to be made consistent through the whole book.
Finally… if it ain’t broke sometimes not fixing it is a really good idea.
*Look it up 🙂