There is nothing like starting over in the New Year. But what if your plans to start over begin with something old?

It’s not unusual to want to go back to an abandoned manuscript when you’re feeling the urge to write. Sometimes starting from scratch is just too daunting. If you’re thinking of resurrecting a manuscript instead of initiating a new novel, keep a few of these tips in mind so that the process is as smooth as possible.

 

Where to Start

Once you decide to initiate a reboot on a story, there are a few steps to take before you start pounding away at the keyboard.

  • Re-Read

It may seem obvious, but don’t assume you remember your work. Time and experience changes the way we write (and read). Make sure you re-read your revived manuscript from start to finish to be sure it’s still the story you think it is.

  • List What You Like

Once you’ve given it a thorough read, make a list of what you like about it (and what you don’t, if it’s helpful). Are you still obsessed with your main character? Did the existing plot points have you on the edge of your seat?

Know the parts of your story you want to keep for the rewrite, and consider what aspects of your story this updated version could do without.

  • Edit or Start Anew

It’s important to decide now what you’re going to do with this existing work. Are you going to make some edits and pick up where you left off? Or are you going to start anew? It may be helpful to assign a percentage of what you think is worth keeping. If you are happy with more than 60% of your existing manuscript, then maybe there’s a way to bring this abandoned tale back to life. If you feel it needs a lot of work, you’d likely be better off just starting from scratch and modifying your old manuscript into an outline.

 

Fun Ways to Freshen Up

Now if you’ve found yourself in the oh-so-common position of liking the “bones” of your story, but feeling it’s flat, there are a lot of ways to amp up a story that has lost its pizzazz.

  • Swap the Gender of the Main Character

If you’ve fallen out of love with a character, don’t worry too much—there is a fast way out of a dull persona. It seems so simple and yet devastatingly complicated, but by turning your hero into a heroine or your high school hottie into a heartthrob, you can quickly reignite a story.

Suddenly the familiar becomes unchartered, and you’re seeing your story through fresh eyes.

  • Set the Story In a Different Time

This could be a slight shift or a major deviation from the story you int