story, science, technology and creativity

Taking advice: Better late than never


It’s a funny thing, asking someone else to read your book manuscript. Sometimes they say things you want to hear, and sometimes they point out problems you can easily fix. And sometimes — awful but useful times — they point out giant issues with your plot or characters or story. Those are the occasions that require most courage, and the most time.

About four years ago author Julia Lawrinson read through my first ever children’s book manuscript, One Weekend with Killiecrankie, and she gave me some brilliant advice. Some of it I heeded straight away, but other bits — more crucial, time-consuming, plot-wrenching bits — I chose to ignore.

Since then I have reworked One Weekend with Killiecrankie about a million times and never quite got it right. The small changes Julia suggested were easy to make and improved the book hugely, but I kept resisting the big changes. Instead I worked on tweaking small things, faffing around instead of taking a chainsaw to the story and rewriting large chunks.

Recently, I finally got the courage to take a proper look at what Julia told me all those years ago: One Weekend with Killiecrankie is a cool story, but the ending sucks!

I have spent the last little while completely rewriting large chunks of the story and recreating an entirely new (and super-fun) ending.

I LOVE IT! I’m so much happier with the entire story and all its characters. The first ending was rubbish because I needed to finish my story in a rush and I couldn’t think of anything better. The second ending has been brewing for ages and all it needed was a bit of courage. Out with the dead wood, in with the good times!

Of course, I’ll need to rewrite that ending about a million times too, but still…We’re on the way!

Author: cristyburne


2 thoughts on “Taking advice: Better late than never

  1. Thanks Nathan! I think there’s a hurdle for me even in realising that what I’ve written is fiction, and that the story and ideas can warp and change during a major edit and that’s OK. A funny feeling. I think it comes from being a science writer in the past and wanting to stick to the facts.

    And I’m glad you liked Chaos Walking…they’re pretty awesome books. I often quote Patrick Ness at school visits: he said he only writes 1000 words a day, every day, and then he’s free to do whatever he likes (including write more if he wants)…and in that way, in just a couple of months, he has 60,000 words. Inspiring!


  2. Hi Cristy,

    I completely know how you feel – the reluctance to attack a story at the foundation level but eventually the joy when your story is standing strong and firm!

    I really enjoyed reading through your website!



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