Monday, 24 September 2007

Why write a new story when you can recycle one?

A night off from editing tonight...

Actually that's not strictly true.

A night off from editing the novel tonight. I meant to sit down and write a short story for a competition but instead browsed my short story folders and discovered a story that was a very good fit BUT...
  • It was too long (by about a thousand words)
  • It contained too many characters
  • It had a distinctly miserable editing

If I was going to sub the story to the competition I had to do a lot of work to it. SO I did. I:

  • chopped 1,000 words (and the remaining words tightened)
  • chopped two or three characters (I wrote the story before I found out you should have a maximum of 4 characters in a short story)
  • made the ending upbeat and much cleverer than the original ending (if I do say so myself)

And you know what? Although it took me the best part of the evening I actually really enjoyed the process and now I feel a tremendous sense of job well done. It doesn't even matter if the story doesn't place in the comp - it's in a sub-able state now.

Now why the hell can't I feel the same about editing my novel? Oh, I know. The story was complete at 2,200 words. The novel is over 91,000 words more than that. Back to novel editing tomorrow.

11 comments:

Lane said...

Excellent work Cally!.. and good luck with the competition:))
x

womagwriter said...

Recycling old stories is a great idea. I have loads I wrote before I really knew what I was doing, and I'm sure some of them must have plots or characters worth salvaging. I guess you just need to get into the right frame of mind - bit like clearing out a cupboard you have to be ruthless!

Fiona said...

When you edit a short story, can you do it while sitting next to partner who is watching Casualty?

If not and you shut yourself away in the cellar and write, then I am very jealous because I am too tired/lazy/trollied to write a night.

Very good luck with the competition - let us know.

Lane said...

Cally I've just seen your question to KayJay and I happened to be looking up the same thing this morning in case I decide, in a mad rush, to do anything for the Times Comp.

booktrust.org suggests 8 years old = short fast moving and 15,000 words.
10 years old = 20-25,000 words
12 years old = 40,000 words.
x

CTaylor said...

Lane - thanks so much for that! That's exactly why I was asking. I've got an idea for a children's novel (probably more suited to 9-12 year olds than 9-16 years olds, but still...) and was considering writing it for the Times competition. If I do 1,000 words a day between 1st October and 31st october that's 31,000 words. Then I'd have a couple of days to edit and get it in the post! That's why I'm still mulling it over. It's a LOT of hard work over a long period and I'm not sure my over-stressed mind/body can do it.

Have you started on something or will you be starting from scratch like me?

Lane said...

Cally, all I've got is an idea and a few notes. It would be aimed at the younger end so only about 20-25,00 words max. I don't know how this will stand up, being judged against 80 thousand word stories for sixteen year olds.

I'm in two minds. I hate to miss an opportunity but on the other hand I know the novel will fall by the wayside for all of October and I really wanted to get the first draft finished by Christmas. Dilemmas, dilemmas:))
x

HelenMH said...

Cally - you are a human whirlwind - I don't know how you find the energy!

Fiona - I can edit a story sitting next to a housemate who's watching Rugby on television, because Rugby is sooooo boring!Might be harder if he was watching something interesting!

Helen Shearer said...

I've never written a short story but maybe I should. It must be gratifying to actually finish something in a reasonable period of time.

liz fenwick said...

Cally pleased to see al the editing skills you have been honing on the novel coming into pratice.....it will show when you go back to editing the novel :-)

JJ said...

Cally
Thanks for your advice over on mine the other day...
JJx

Helen said...

Just wanted to say that very very soon I am going to take the plunge and start reading my m/s.

I just went through your blog as I knew you'd put in some tips on editing a while back.

I'm going to read through (and mark with red pen I'm sure) then also do the table (as in Wannabe. I thought that was a really useful tool.)

Anyway just wanted to say thanks for the advice (and for the photo thing you wrote on my blog yesterday.)