Saturday, 20 August 2016

No story goes to waste

Having fun on Seaton Beach, Cornwall with Artoo
After working hard on You. I. Us. and turning a novella into a novel for most of this year, I'm now looking back at some of my older stories and wondering if I can create something amazing out of them.

I do this on a fairly regular basis, with various levels of success. One of the stories from You. I. Us. - Redemption - was based on a story I wrote around 1997. The actual story bore no resemblance by the end of the re-write, but it kick-started me, and allowed me to tell the story I'd wanted to initially. Sometimes I find my own improvements as a writer enable past stories to be revitalised in a way that I could never imagine.

I'm currently attempting this process with two stories at the same time. One is basically a piece of description that I'm hoping to squeeze a plot out of, and the other is the first part of my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel.

But I'm going through the whole spectrum of writing within one page. I'll write a sentence I think is perfect, then another which is rubbish, then I'll decide the whole idea is a waste of time, then I'll sweep right back to writing something brilliant again.

This makes it really hard to know if I'm actually writing anything that's any good. In fact, the original title of this post was "How do you know if you're writing a good story?" but that sounded like I was going to give advice and actually explain, rather than appeal for help myself.

(If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know giving advice isn't my forte!)

As far as I can tell, from my own experience, you know when you get that gut-feeling. I've had it many times, and I'm usually right. Which should mean that when I don't have that feeling I should give up, right?

But I won't. Because I'm stubborn.

How do you decide which projects are worth the effort?
Have you ever shelved a story and gone back to it?

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In other news, You. I. Us. has been getting some really great reviews recently. Thank you to everyone who's taken the time to leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon.

Whenever I get a good review, I treat myself to some chocolate - and you should know how much I like chocolate by now, so I really appreciate it on a whole new level.





30 comments:

  1. I wrote a short story for an anthology and I just recently finished expanding it into a full length novel. Good Luck, you can do it!!!

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    1. That's great, congrats. Short stories can be a great launch pad for something longer.

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  2. The ones that are worth it are the ones you are excited about, whether anything comes of them or not.
    And you know I went back and re-wrote an older story with success.

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    1. Yes, your story was a great success! I have mixed fortunes with the stories I try to re-write, but it won't stop me trying :-)

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  3. I never know if I'm writing a good story but, fortunately, I do seem to know when I'm writing a bad one. That cover is very attractive.

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    1. That's possibly better intuition - if you know it's bad, you can either alter it or give up without too much trauma. Thank you - I loved the cover from the moment I saw it.

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  4. Most of my shelved stories are still there, but I have pulled one out that will fit with my next book.

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    1. That's great - the others might find a use some day too :-)

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  5. I tend to hate so much of my writing. It's a tough call to see good bones and rebuild. I need more patience and perseverance. You do deserve lots of chocolate!

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    1. No, I can't believe you hate it. I love your writing. Your latest book is my reward for getting my current short story finished!

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  6. I put some stories aside and at some point go back to them.
    My understanding is that The Dome sat in Steve King's desk for years before he went back in and dusted it off.

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    1. Wow, years in a desk drawer? That's good to know.

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  7. Many congrats on the reviews! That's huge!

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  8. I'm working on a longer story, based on an idea I pulled from an old NaNo novel. I've been struggling with the pacing, but I think I just came up with a way to fix it, and it feels right in my gut. For the moment anyway. :)

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    1. I love those moments of clarification. I've had a similar moment with my short story, and now it's flowing. Trust your gut, Madeline :-)

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  9. That's a decision that I find the hardest one to make. If I set aside a project, I must have either lost faith or interest in it. Still, I did resuscitate one story and it's now with my agent. I'm still nervous about it because I'm not sure I should have put the effort into that book. Guess I'll find out.

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    1. Good luck with that book. At least handing it to your agent will mean useful feedback and advice. Fingers crossed she loves it!

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  10. Hi Annalisa - it's that gut feeling isn't it ... and then knowing you can bring it to fruition - you'll do it and good luck ... but a long walk helps to clear those brain cells of unnecessary extras ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Walking definitely helps me focus, having a dog comes in very handy :-)

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  11. I'm always afraid to let go of writing, even if I'm not sure that what I'm writing is any good. That's why I've never thrown out any of my journals. I heard the writer Matthew Pearl speak once, and he said that he keeps a file in his computer labeled "Extras" where he puts lines or passages that he edited from his manuscripts but that might prove to be useful later.

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    1. I'm not organised enough to do that - my editing style is more cut and slash, while laughing manically :-)

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  12. Goodness, have I shelved and resurrected a project? Only too many times. There are only two story ideas I have ever abandoned entirely because I realized 1, they were generic, and 2, I didn't have the passion to write them. There are definitely times to give up on projects, but there are also times to never give up on a project.

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    1. It's good that you have the knowledge to know which ideas to pursue and which to let go.

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  13. Congrats on the good reviews and the extra pieces of chocolate!

    I'm not sure how I know which ideas have legs, but I do feel like I know. I stubbornly went back to my first novel manuscript over and over because I believe in it. And I'm digging into my second just as hard. I can't just put ideas in a drawer if they tug at me. But I do not have a system for knowing that. Very helpful answer, I know. :)

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    1. The gut feeling shouldn't be ignored! The couple of stories I'm working on now have been tugging for a while.

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  14. Yah, for all the good reviews. I shelve ideas and partial stories all the time. I intend to get back to them all one day;) It's good you are sticking to your story. I know you will whip it into shape, like only you can, Annalisa.

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    1. I'm struggling this evening. No matter how I write it, it's not saying what I want it to :-(

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  15. Hooray for good reviews! And sometimes it's tough to put a story aside when it's not working. I've about a dozen novels just sitting in my desk. Learning experiences, I hope. I go with the story that's most bright in my head and heart at the moment.

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  16. Te envio mi blog de poesia por si quieres criticar.
    Gracias
    http://anna-historias.blogspot.com.es/2016/09/vacaciones.html?m=1

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Please comment - I love a good chat!