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Friday, February 08, 2013

Old Ideas

When I was in high school I wrote this long short story about a woman who had been raised by dragons -- a knight of a woman, who had been raised by dragons, actually. And then I wrote kind of a sequel about another woman, a bard, who was a companion to a shapeshifting dragon.* These women were named Anessa and Nemi, respectively.

from Project Gutenburg
via wiki commons
Anessa went on to become the name of a character in an altogether different story -- you might have heard of it, maybe, if you hang around the blog here. It's called Forged by Fate. But even though I might have recycled the names into more successful stories, I never did recycle the plot. Every once in a while I look back on it and think -- huh. Maybe it's time to dust it off. Maybe just rewrite it and see what happens.

But then I go back and dig out a piece of it to reread and ugh.

Ugh!

An excerpt for your mocking pleasure:
“How could you go behind my back?!” she demanded, stomping her foot, hands on her hips. “Why would you tell them such things?!”

Solaris stood unflinchingly before her, her precious lute strapped to his back. He had just returned from the Inn. “You’re distressed, Nemii. Perhaps you had too little sleep last night?” he inquired solicitously.

“Perhaps I don’t need you interfering in my personal affairs!” She countered, infuriated by his response to her tirade.

“I brought you your lute…” he slipped it off his shoulder and hesitantly held it out to her, as if it were an offering of peace. In a way, it was.

She plucked it out of his grasp with great care, inspecting every inch of the instrument for damage before spinning on her heel and storming out of the chamber.

He watched her go, raking his fingers through his hair in puzzlement at her behavior; a purely human affectation, he noted. He had thought he was helping her…
The adverbs! The said substitutions! The head-hopping! Using the verb "pluck" next to a description of "with great care!"

My friends, in the great year of 2002, I was not a good writer.

"infuriated by his response to her tirade" I MEAN REALLY WHAT.

I'm kind of afraid that when I take a good long hard look at the story -- not the writing, but the story itself -- I'm going to realize that isn't worth revisiting, either. But the thing is, I'm a better writer now. And if there IS something to salvage...

Well, I won't know until I give it a shot, and being afraid it's crap isn't a good enough reason not to try!

*The name Solaris belonged to a character created by a friend who was roleplaying a shapeshifting dragon. That said, his character and the character I wound up writing -- not the same in execution. But. Credit where credit is due! My dragonman had a lot more in common with The Doctor, in point of fact. Which means I am ripping off THE WHOLE WORLD ARGH. 

10 comments:

  1. You're totally right--you never know what's salvageable until you give it a try. I started writing a second Egypt novel a while back, but it was so awful I trunked it partway through. However, some of the character aspects and a plot point or two made their way into my revisions of Hatshepsut. It took me almost two novels to write a good novel, but I don't care--I'll take it!

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    1. I can't tell you how many other books I had to write, or try to write, to get Forged by Fate all straight! I think three, at least! And I'm not counting the books 2 and 3 in the trilogy!

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    2. I'm right there with you both! I think it took, what, 3 books before I wrote one that was actually worth revising into something? Amalia can attest, of course, since I made her read those cruddy first attempts! Hah.

      I guess what they say is true, you have to write a lot to get all of the "crap" words out of the way. It's the only way to learn!

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    3. I'm pretty sure I crossed the million words of crap mark back with my first original Nanowrimo draft of Helen, so I am now supposedly in the "stuff that does not suck" zone! Hooray! Maybe that's why I've leveled up on the drafting stage.

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  2. The head hopping in the little example is the thing that surprises me most, I think, given your current opinion on that kind of writing! Strange how things we put in our writing early on can be the things that drive us bonkers later.

    I think it's so cool that you're actually delving back through this and are trying to maybe give it a shot! It might end up that you need to scrap most of what you thought the story was back then, but I BET you'll find a solid core or a seed of inspiration in there.

    And how cool would it be to go back to such an old piece and transform it into gold like some kind of writing alchemy? VERY cool is the answer.

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    1. Oh yeah, I am HYPER Vigilant about head-hopping NOW *because* it was one of my weaknesses early on. No question!

      When you put it that way, it DOES sound VERY cool, if not downright Awesome!!

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  3. Ack! You are far too hard on yourself. The gold is there. With a one-pass edit you could fix everything you mentioned. Yes, your writing has improved, and now you see the weaknesses in your earlier work, but the raw natural talent is evident. Believe me, in my editing life, I've read copy for which there is *NO* hope, and this is not it.

    Oh, and while I admire your courage, please, please, please don't ever make me read my old stuff!


    ~VR Barkowski

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    1. That's very kind of you to say, VR! It's true that a lot of it could be revised out, but it'd probably be easier for me to just rewrite from scratch (which I've done for far less reason in the past!).

      I will never MAKE you read your old stuff ;) But sometimes it is nice to see how far you've come in contrast!

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  4. Well, when you rewrite don't forget to solicitously put in these!?! Funny.

    For high school though, you can see the talent was there.

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    1. haha. Yeah, I will definitely interrobang it up. and thank you!

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