When Reworking a Story Remakes it

Sometimes a story simply isn't saveable, sometimes you have to just let it go

Sometimes you can save it, but it runs far deeper than rewriting the opening, adding scenes, or cutting characters. 

One project of mine I adored, but the story had no plot.  So, I kept the characters and the world and rewrote the entire story from scratch. 

I was okay with that. These were still my characters, this was still my world, and I kept two or three key plot elements.  The story was very different, some characters never appeared and new ones arrived, but the main players were still there and still them. 

But what if you can't simply file off the serial numbers. 

What if in re-working the story you don't just have to rework the plot, but the characters and the world as well? 

I have a project that as it is, just doesn't work.  But I *love* this story and this world.  These characters and I have been together since 2007.  But I can't just write these characters a new story.  No, I have to unmake them and their world. 

OW. 

I started batting some ideas around with a few people who weren't nearly as attached to the world as was. 

Then I had an idea and wrote down those opening chapters before I forgot. 

It's a really interesting story. 

But it's not this story. 

In changing the MC's backstory and age, I changed her.  It changed her so much I'm not actually sure it is her. 

And the two other main characters who are so important to that world, those stories.  After 50 pages they haven't even shown up yet. I know how to make them appear, but I could easily write this story without them.

Double OW. 

So now, since I have to return to the editing cave, I have to think really hard. 

Do I want to rework this story so badly that I'll be okay with loosing all the things I love it? 

Or do I put it away, maybe not forever, but until I have time to see if I can rewrite it another way?

I don't know.  I just don't know.

But I think I'll eat some cupcakes while pondering that.

What would you do? 

3 comments:

Trisha Wolfe said...

Feel your pain. I have two shelved books with characters I love. I've tried to work them into another story, but, eh, no go =/ One day I might be brave enough to try to tackle this.

Best of luck, and I'll join you for some cupcake pondering ;)

mulligangirl said...

I have a story where I changed one of the protagonist's completely, which I think improved the story. But now I need to revisit the entire plot. I dealt with the pain by writing a new book I'm more 'attached' to now (mainly because I'm closer to it), then letting the older one go was easier. Never easy, just sometimes necessary. Cupcakes help, as well as peanut butter m&m's and Cheetos. ;)

Suzanne Lazear said...

I love the idea of cupcake therapy! Thanks!