First Novels and the Art of Revision

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Most first novels are really second novels, since most first novels go unpublished. Writing for ZYZZYVA, Rumpus contributor Aaron Gilbreath talks through his experience having his debut memoir rejected, eventually leading an agent to suggest he write a novel instead:

He wasn’t telling me to call a novel a memoir, or to capitalize on a hot genre. He was telling me to re-imagine my story, to try a new angle. Magazine editors did this all the time: rethink this, they say in the margins of your essay draft, redo that, go further, go deeper.


Ian MacAllen's fiction has appeared in 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, Joyland Magazine, and elsewhere and nonfiction has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, The Negatives, Electric Literature, Fiction Advocate, and elsewhere. He is the Deputy Editor of The Rumpus, holds an MA in English from Rutgers University, tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →