New Stories for Old

We’ve decided to decorate the ‘office’ (or rather the tiny room off our bedroom which estate agents call a ‘dressing room’ and most of the neighbours have turned into an en suite). This has meant emptying the room completely – including all my writing files dating back to the millennium – which is when this room last had a make-over.

“You can get rid of all those, can’t you?” said my husband.

My first inclination was to refuse to throw away so much as a single sheet of my scribblings but eventually I did agree to have a sort through them. In the end a lot of things went – stacks of rejection letters (why did I ever keep those in the first place?), articles & features that never made it into print and whose ‘hook’ has long since passed and stories that are not suited to the narrow range of magazines that now take them.

However, I did put aside a few things that can be recycled. I found a story with a neat twist ending of the type favoured by Take a Break and, with the benefit of 10 years hindsight and a better knowledge of the womag market, I think I now know how to improve it. I need to change the male point of view character to a female, inject more dialogue and tighten the whole thing up.

And if the story is a success, I’ll be using the money on some curtains or wallpaper!

Try digging out some of your own very old writing and look past what might be a cringe-worthy style. Are there some ideas there that, with re-working, would suit today’s publications?

And while we’re on the subject of recycling – don’t forget that I’m looking for a new home for my World Book Night books. Full details here.

  1. #1 by Susan Jones on May 19, 2011 - 5:06 pm

    I must say I keep old folders of writing for ages Sally. Sometimes a story may have been rejected by several magazines, but if I like it, I want to hold on to it. One day I may write a novel combination of all the stories.

  2. #2 by Helen Yendall on May 19, 2011 - 5:39 pm

    Yes, a good tip. I was only thinking the other day about recycling ‘old’ characters! I’ve created – as I’m sure we all have – some good characters in my short stories and it seems a shame that they only get used once! I’m thinking of bringing them out of retirement and using them in other stories, about other aspects of their lives!

    • #3 by Sally Jenkins on May 19, 2011 - 8:10 pm

      Helen & Susan – it’s inevitable that we get fond of characters & stories that we’ve laboured over. As Susan says it would be great to bring all the stories together in some way. Helen, I can see the fun in looking at different aspects of existing characters. Good Luck to you both if you have a go!

  3. #4 by Patsy Collins on May 21, 2011 - 7:18 am

    I keep all my old stories – easy for me though as they’re all on computer.

    • #5 by Sally Jenkins on May 22, 2011 - 1:19 pm

      Patsy – mine are on the PC too, but I’ve yet to find a way of organising them that makes for easy retrieval. I still print and file hard copies of everything I submit.

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