It’s time to go back and revisit those old short stories and novels you wrote years ago and tucked away. Did you print them as hard copies, stick them in an envelope, and place them on the back of the shelf? Or, did you remove them from your hard drive and place them on a memory stick to save space? It’s a cinch they weren’t half bad. I’m betting your terrible is another man’s “kinda good”. So, if there’s a glimmer of worth to them, why not freshen them up for 2018?
Let’s say your old novel was three quarters complete, but you couldn’t figure out where you’d take it. How about someplace new and different? If it started out as a romance why not make it dark by turning your love interest into an obsessed stalker? Instead of trying to figure out if he loves her, your heroine, using everything that was already in your old story, has to figure out if he wants her dead.
Hmmm, mysteries and thrillers aren’t your style. It’s okay to stick with the romance angle. What matters is you have the bones of a story which would take you weeks to flesh out or recreate. Renew, restore, and revive that story to fit today’s lifestyle.
How? As you read through it, edit out cliches and staid phrasing. Change the conversation to show what we’d say or do in 2018? Get rid of anything outdated and replace it with today’s political games, technology advances, murders, scandals, and reality t.v. nonsense.
Where does the action take place? Have you traveled since writing the old tale? Place the action in that new locale? You always said you’d put it in a story one day. Make today the day. Play up the beauty of the scenery and what it felt like driving along the coast. Were you on a motorcycle? How would that have played out with someone chasing you at high speeds?
Were buildings knocked down or destroyed where you live? How did you and your community feel? Describe those feelings and make your efforts to save the structure a new part of your old story. Let it impact the character and add to his conflict.
Don’t hang on to old pages and chapters which aren’t relevant even if you love the way you turned a phrase or made the words flow. It’s difficult to destroy your words, because they cost you dearly, but more than likely, new, more effective words will spring up in you with way less effort as you write from this place of new vitality. That’s the beauty of being an artist.
Your old writings have sat on the shelf long enough. Now, as you read them with a fresh eye, you see how to make them relevant for this current time. Turn that glimmer into glitter and that glitter into gold. Get excited about what you will produce! And guess what? You’re the only one who knows you wrote those pieces ten, fifteen years ago.