Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dig Up Those Old Stories

I don't know about you, but I find that I have a lot of old stories that I wrote as far back as high school that I have saved. These stories, though something I would never think of publishing in their current state, are just sitting around collecting dust.

There really is no reason why these old stories need to lay dormant. As an author, I know that I have the ability to breathe new life into them.

I have actually dug up some of these old stories (mainly some sci-fi stories I wrote in college that no one in their right mind would ever try and publish) and at first I was disgusted with them. I think that many writers have this exact same impulse when they first look at their writing that is more than a couple of years old. The reason is that we grow as writers. Our styles change and we actually get better at writing the more we write. These stories I am speaking of now, were riddled with grammatical errors (which I mistakenly thought at the time my editor would fix for me), sentence fragments and a slew of other mistakes that I don't care to mention. As I said, my first impulse was disgust, and my second was to close the file and never look at it again.

However, the story of this first writing I looked at was pretty good, and I thought I could do something with it. The plot of the story was actually pretty simple: a young boy witnesses the last stand of his race against an alien invasion. So, I decided that I was going to attempt giving this a try.

As I read through the story (trying my best to ignore the plethora of grammar errors and whatnot) I noticed too, that I had never put any meat into the story. I noticed that the characters I created were as simple as the plot. I never mention who the boy really was, other than the fact that his parents were on the front line. I never gave a hint as to the culture of these people (were they humans in the future, or were they another alien race on some distant planet?). I found that in rewriting the story, I would have to do a great deal of new writing.

And so I have.

I will admit that it is a challenge and I have essentially had to start near the beginning and build this story from the ground up, however, what I have come up with on this story so far, I am very satisfied with. I have begun to turn a story that a week ago repulsed me and have turned it into a story I can be proud of.

I suggest you do the same. Dig out those old stories. Rewrite them and make them into something you can be proud of and try to get them published somewhere. Even if you don't try to reconstruct the story from the ground up like I did, going through your old writings might spark something in your mind and you can create a whole new story. Don't just let these old stories sit dead in a drawer (or in most cases on an old CD) collecting dust never to see the light of day again. Dust them off and make them into something new.

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