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I recently finished my first novel. It is a fictional account of a
youngn woman's adventures as a teacher in an urban high
school. I have an agent. She just recently returned my
manuscript with notes and suggstions--all wonderful. I returned
to my outline, made notes, changes, et al.

Now I am at a loss. Do I re-write on top of my original copy
stored on my computer? Do I start typing from scratch, using my
hard copy from my agent as a guide? I am truly overwhelmed at
how to beign rewriting 90,000 words.

I even invested in hundreds of index cards, outlined one scene
per card. I thought that I could spread out all of my current
scenes, then take away the scenes I am cutting and add new
index cards for scenes I'm adding. But I don't know if that makes
sense either...
Please Help!  

Hello Wisdom:

I understand your confusion, and no, you will not have to rewrite the whole thing.

Were I faced with this situation, here's what I would do. By all means, lay your index cards out and take away what you're cutting, and insert new cards for the new scenes.

Now make a new outline. List your scenes (on the computer) and a short description of the action in each. Number both the scenes and the descriptions. 1A, 2B, 3C, etc. Print that out.

Then go to your text. Make a copy and call it "Version 2" or "Agent's Version." Cut the old stuff you're not keeping and save it in a separate file where you can reference it if you need to. Leave a space (4-5 lines) after each deletion. Highlight all that text and make it colored red.

Type the new stuff in black (or vice versa) so you can tell which is which. Save that, too. When you get all done, delete the colors.

The important thing here is to know (1) what you've deleted, (2) what you've added, and (3) how to tell the difference. Last, you'll need to check to make sure you've done everything she suggested. Then resubmit.

Congratulations on getting an agent to look at your first novel!

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 370+ questions.

And good luck with your book!

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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