ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig November 29, 2011 - 3:55pm

I recently found an old three ring stuffed full of college rule, held together by duct tape (you get the idea). In it, a story I penned when I was fifteen or so. I think it has some promise, although the writing is pretty embarrassing (definitely the voice of a fifteen year old)...

So the question:

Can it be done? Would you? Have you? Do they sell "story polish" in bulk? I am pretty stubborn, so I will probably do it regardless, but thought it would make an interesting discussion.

Mostly I am looking for a discussion on if any of you have done something like this, or what the oldest, most embarrassing piece of writing you have revamped is, tips and tricks, or Hell, to keep it interesting reasons why you think I will fail. 

Dave McCary's picture
Dave McCary from Santa Barbara, CA is reading A Dance of Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire series) November 29, 2011 - 4:53pm

It all comes down to one question: do you like the story? If so, tell it how you, perhaps, really intended before you had the skill to do so.

If the story itself holds up, rewrite it. If not, rewrite it anyway. It still makes for good practice.

-Cheers

jl85's picture
jl85 from originally East Tennessee now Southern California is reading everything I can November 29, 2011 - 5:49pm

I agree with Dave, if you think there's some potential rewrite or revise, plain and simple. Just because you were fifteen when you wrote a story doesn't mean it's bad, hell, wasn't Ellis around 20 or 21 when he wrote Less Than Zero. Young doesn't necessarily mean shit.

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin November 29, 2011 - 6:56pm

I have a story about a superintelligent dog who can write English with his paws on prepared surfaces, who gets locked up and studied in some secret government lab and uses his access to cause nuclear armageddon. I wrote it when I was 15 and I often come back to it and do a little tune up here and there.

But can I turn this Model T into a Mustang?

I haven't succeeded yet.

*cough* less than zero sucks *cough*

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig November 29, 2011 - 8:16pm

Oh, I don't think it is bad because I wrote it when I was fifteen, I think it is bad because when I read it, the voice is obviously that of a fifteen year old.

I do think it's a great story and has a lot of potential.

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin November 29, 2011 - 8:17pm

I have always felt the same way about The Best Friend, do you have the points? we can duel our 15 year old selves in the workshop if you want.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig November 29, 2011 - 8:18pm

I do have points, however, it's all handwritten, so if I am going to type this all out, I am going to revise as I go!

Maybe once I get some revision done!

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin November 29, 2011 - 9:03pm

It's fine, I want to get more feedback on the new draft of Convo before I post anything else. And I don't usually post anything until I hit 30 anyways, so whenever you're ready just let me know. Then at least we can both be embarassed when people ask "why did you get a high school sophomore to write this for you?"

Typewriter Demigod's picture
Typewriter Demigod from London is reading "White Noise" by DeLilo, "Moby-Dick" by Hermann Mellivile and "Uylsses" by Joyce November 30, 2011 - 5:56am

I have some vile shite I wrote two  years ago. THe age of the narrator fluctuates unpredictabely, most of the characters don't need to exist, the narrator is annoying and almost autistic in his understanding of emotions, it's very violent and there are two graphic sex scenes. It's embarrasing and awful, but if any of you guys wanna read it, I can send it.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig November 30, 2011 - 12:02pm

nkwilczy---You're on. I think I have decided to start it, even though I was going to wait to start anything until next month when I get Scrivener...

At least I know I am not alone, haha!

razorsharp's picture
razorsharp from Ohio is reading Atlas Shrugged November 30, 2011 - 9:45pm

When I decided to rewrite a short story I wrote in high school, I didn't stop. Seriously, it went from a three page short story to now I'm writing chapter seven 50 pages in. I'm not sure if it's any good (probably not), but I just can't bring myself to shelve it. I figure at the least it's good practice. Maybe if I get lucky I can sell it as a YA novel when I finish.

The saddest part about it is that when I wrote the short story it was contemporary. Now it's like a freakin' period piece b/c it takes place in the 90s. So much has changed.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig December 1, 2011 - 9:21am

Hahaha, OMG. I didn't even think about that. That will be interesting to either edit out the decade specific stuff or leave it and embrace it.
This one is already a novella, I don't know what my goal really is with it--I just want it to be "better".

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin December 1, 2011 - 10:50am

Well, The Best Friend is no novella. It's a 13 page story about the battle between science and "magic" (events that seem supernatural because we do not understand them, and after centuries of science they have grown violently opposed to being understood). I wouldn't write the novel, I think a novel would take a lot of fun out of this story.

I tracked it down, it was on an external hard drive. The main thing that strikes me right now is that this story gets sooooo melodramatic at the end. Give me a couple of days to try to clean it up.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig December 1, 2011 - 10:56am

I need more than a few days. I haven't even done a full read through, and the first few chapters are the WORST of this story...Tell ya what, though, I promise to start today if you do.

misskokamon's picture
misskokamon from San Francisco is reading The Moonlit Mind December 1, 2011 - 1:25pm

I have this story I pieced together when I was nine. It's a combination of your average fantasy epic, Dragon Ball Z, and Avatar the Last Airbender. Every once in awhile I play around with the idea and try to make it less everything-that-is-cliche, but it is certainly not in the backlog of things to be written in my lifetime. Maybe I can take some chunks and work them into other stories?

I feel the same way about characters I created for stories written with friends. I can't seem to squeeze them into a novel written only by me.

As far as polishing goes, there are some stories and characters  I wrote as a kid that I think about fondly from time to time. Sometimes they help me with my current writing, too. But the stories and characters aren't wasted--I learn from them and apply what I learned to my new projects. 

I'm not saying you shouldn't order a few batches of polish, though! If the story is good, rewrite it in your new voice! Artist friends of mine do something like that. They find a picture they drew years ago and redraw it with their new set of skills. 

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin December 1, 2011 - 8:09pm

Starting today isn't going to happen, these vocab cards aren't going to write themselves. I'll get going tomorrow probably.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig December 1, 2011 - 8:15pm

Haha, that's a relief because I haven't done shit!

Well, I was productive today, just not on the story.

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin December 8, 2011 - 1:59am

Hey Renee, I know you've got a lot of projects atm (for instance, I would not want to slow down or get in the way of anybody trying to contribute to the Psychosis antholgy) and I also appreciate that your story here is significantly longer than mine and I was just wondering what sort of progress you've made on yours.

Personally, once I tracked down mine and started working on it all sorts of real passion for this project welled up in me. I have to admit, I forgot how much I always liked this story. It has probably recieved more rejections than any other story of mine, because well, I wrote it ten years ago. Nowadays when I get three rejections on a story I completely retool it or take it out of submission rotation (there are at least five stories I've written since that are so bad, bizzare, and heavy handed that they are unlikely to ever even see the light of the workshop) but since I wrote this story just starting out and since I liked it so much I couldn't figure out why it never got accepted and just kept plugging away at it.

But, having looked at it now after a really long break (honestly, the last time I tried to turn this model T into a mustang was probably 5 years ago) I feel competent enough and I feel like I've made good progress in turning this into a more compelling and straightforward story, with significantly less teenage angst (yes, now its grown up angst, lol). I'm not trying to pressure you, just checking in.

David Shepherd's picture
David Shepherd from shepherdsville, KY is reading Idoru by William Gibbson December 8, 2011 - 2:35am

@typewriter
Used to be all I would write is the most disgusting and and downright disturbing shit I could think of. I got so good at it that I'm proud to say I could make the Marquis de Sade, or Bret Easton Ellis in case no one knows Sade, blush. But then I looked at my writing and realized that's all it was was disturbing and gross. I had no character development, no plot or anything for that matter. Literally just a chain of the weirdest things you've ever read, they really didn't even fit together all that well. But still I see a beauty in the disturbing so I'm working in as much as I can in between the inevitable fucked up parts in my writing because I just can't help but write about the debased things floating around in my head.

@renee
I say the above because I think you should write whatever you feel. I fee inspiration froml crazy so I write crazy. If you feel your old story than you should definately fix it up.

Brian Ingham's picture
Brian Ingham from Stillwater Oklahoma is reading There is No Year by. Blake Butler December 8, 2011 - 3:34am

I agree 100% David. Otherwise what emotional connection do you have with your work? The stuff that floats through my mind is disturbing at times, but also very inspirational. But boy does it sure take a lot of talent to write such debauchery like Ellis/Sade do and make it come out so beautiful and poetic

David Shepherd's picture
David Shepherd from shepherdsville, KY is reading Idoru by William Gibbson December 8, 2011 - 3:48am

@Brian
The one problem I've always had with their work is I never see the poetry in their violence. Their wriing style is just so detached that I feel more like I'm reading a sheet of facts than a murder or rape scene. I respect them both as terribly talented writers but neither of their styles stick with me and I've just never felt anything while reading one of their disgusting scenes. I don't feel mine are any better by any means, but my whole approach is making you feel something while you read it, I want someone to say," oh that poor women, how could anybody do such a thing!" because when I read American psycho I can't remember the name of a single one of his victims, of course I believe that detachment is what he was going for though.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig December 13, 2011 - 8:52pm

@Nick I never even saw that this thread had been updated, but I did see that it came up in the workshop, I have it downloaded to my laptop and am hoping to read/review it on my flight tomorrow.

I am taking a longish trip and think I will have more than enough time to crank out what is left for my Psychosis story, so I think I will take the notebook holding "The Wilcox Affair" with me and spend some time playing with it!

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig December 13, 2011 - 8:53pm

@David--thanks a lot, that was actually really helpful.