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Old stories that won't leave you alone.


So I wrote a HORRIBLE novel some years ago that won't stop bugging me. I reread it some years ago and wrote down notes of how I MIGHT could fix it (if I ever could). Then I read it AGAIN last year and realized it was UNSALVAGEABLE!

I'm thinking about it again.

Why is this happening?

Has this happened to any of you? Have you pulled ideas out of the mire that you wake up in the morning thinking about? What, if anything, do you do about it?


Myth Weaver
My guess is that there is something there that you like, even if you like/hate it.
I don't think anything is completely unsalvageable. But the time and effort needed to fix it may not be the best use of your time.
Every failed plot, story, scene and character I have written gets stored away somewhere in a directory or three. Sometimes I can use the dialogue elsewhere, get hints about a setting from an old unused scene or transpose a character from one story to another.
I have one story and one character that I have been writing and rewriting for nearly thirty years. I can get close to what I want but not close enough... So I keep going around for another go at it every six months or so.


This has been twenty years. I'm thinking about setting it in the 20s or 30s. Ugh. It's still a mess. But, I love the characters and certain scenes. Others I would have to obliterate completely. It would be quite the slog.

Insolent Lad

I went back this past year to a short story I had written years ago, knew was not quite right, but thought I should be able to do something better with it. I am now the proud possessor of a 76,000 word novel that grew from it. It was a series of seven vignettes, each based on a yoga pose. Now it is many chapters divided into four sections...each based on a yoga pose. Not surprisingly, it is titled 'Asanas.' (Mainstream, let me note, not a fantasy) The key was pretty much starting over with the concept, rather than attempting to salvage any of the writing. That allowed me to discover new directions for the plot.


Did that very same thing with something else. Was supposed to be a short story that would take me two weeks to write. Twenty chapters and five years later I had a fantasy novel that I also keep going back to. But at least I can improve upon that one.

The other messy one was mainstream romance, but I would have to make it a bit historical? I suppose? That would come with research due to the subject matter. Hmm... I'll still be stewing on it from time to time. Good to know I'm not alone. :)
I completely feel your pain. I am on my... Maybe eighth revisement And re-write of a story/idea and finally came to the conclusion it needs entirely reworked. That is harder done than said, as you pointed out there are scenes we love and characters we don't want to change.
I've started reworking it from step one. Looking at my characters and their individual stories first with the Main theme a distant thought at the moment.
I felt the garbage I'd originally created needed depth and more conflict.
I suppose what I'm getting at is Yes, trash your oringinal story all except for your most favored aspect or character. Rework it and add new ideas or themes... Something about it obviously needs put down in words. Change it until it fits.


Eighth revisement? Now I don't feel so bad. :) I'm back at it again after a major overhaul over the spring and summer of last year and dragged the thing through the mire. Scrapped scenes only to find I could salvage much of the original dialogue. And infodumps galore! Too many, but fortunately I found I could turn some of it over into dialogue.

Falls apart in the third act only to turn into contrived conflict and now I find myself trying to figure out how to fix all that and make my leads more interesting than the side characters. How does that happen? Can't give up after all this time, I will make it work.