Fixing Up a Turkey


The very first novel-length story I ever wrote was also the very first story I ever queried. After a bunch of (well-deserved) rejections, I filed it away on the computer, and vowed never to look at it again.

But something about that story stuck with me. Sometimes, at night, the characters would still speak to me, asking for their story to be told. So last week, when I decided to walk away from the contemporary fantasy I was writing in favor of something less realistic, I decided to take a new look at my old tale.

In some ways, it wasn’t too bad. The actual prose wasn’t nearly as cringeworthy as I expected. But the story…wow, did it drag.

So I started pulling out the things I liked about the story: the characters (especially the antagonists), the setting, the general world/plot set-up, my MC’s voice. And then I got rid of the things I didn’t: certain relationships, character ages, pesky, nonsensical sub-plots.

And I was left with the pretty decent bones for a story.

I’m really glad I kept my old copy, rather than deleting it out of embarrassment. Because you never know when you can reuse an old an idea (or part of an old idea). I’ve also started files for all the scenes I need to cut when editing.

What about you? Ever reused an old idea? Dusted off an old story? Or do you believe old stories should stay dead? Let me know in the comments.


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