Wednesday, March 01, 2017

IWSG--Reworking Old Stories

It's hard to believe it's already March, isn't it? Only one month left before the 2017 A-Z Blogging Challenge begins. I already have all of my blog posts written for April, which makes it ironic that I don't have this month's blogging planned.

Anyway, it's time for another post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. This month, our co-hosts are Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson.Our question this month is this: "Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?"

I feel like much of my work would qualify for this question. I have no idea how many drafts I went through for Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes, and they changed significantly from first draft to final. However, I don't think they sat around as long as some of my other stories. So I'll focus my answer on two projects: "Letters to Psyche" and the Season Avatars series.

I'm not sure how old the original version of "Letters to Psyche" is. The original idea was inspired by a writing prompt for a now-defunct magazine, and the working title was "Antidote for a Family Feud." The story is about Cupid's involvement with the Montague and Capulet families prior to Romeo and Juliet. I don't think I ever submitted the original story to the magazine, but I workshopped it online. One of my reviewers made me realize Cupid didn't have any personal stake in the story events, so I found a way for a mortal to curse a god. Since Cupid was separated from his wife, Psyche, I rewrote the story to make it a series of letters from him to her. "Letters to Psyche" has been well-received by readers, so I think the revision worked out. You can determine that for yourself by checking out the story through this link.

Even older than "Letters to Psyche" is my Season Avatars series. I wrote the first version of the first book (then called Day of All Seasons) over twenty years ago. Even after revision, this book was over 170,000 words long. It's no surprise that it got rejected by traditional publishing. (An editor who's no longer with Tor did request the full manuscript, but he never got back to me with comments as he promised to.) I finished the second book in this series and started a third, then shelved this project until self-publishing came along.

When I decided to return to the world of Challen, I kept the characters, concept, and setting, but ignored my drafts and started over. I wrote Seasons' Beginnings as a prequel to explain how Chaos Season started and to expand on the relationships between the characters. Day of All Seasons showed both how the "Fem Four" quartet came together and how they tamed their first storm. I finally managed to split this part of the story into two books: Scattered Seasons and Chaos Season. Part of how I managed that is by limiting my point-of-view character to only one per book. (The original story had multiple POV characters.) Books Four and Five (Fifth Season and Summon the Seasons, which is currently being edited for publication later this year) have the same titles as Books Two and Three in my original plans, and they cover the same parts of the overall story. However, they're told differently, and I followed a different path to the same ending I had in mind so many years ago. The series may not be a big seller (perhaps that will change once Summon the Seasons is published), but I'm happy with how it worked out, and I hope readers are too.

If you've reworked old stories, what did you change and why? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Bummer he never got back to you. But, you made it work anyway. Sometimes it is easier to dump the original story line and start from scratch.

Sandra Almazan said...

Agreed, Alex.

Crystal Collier said...

My debut novel started as a historical romance, and turned into a paranormal historical romance. So yeah, there's that.

I suppose that's what matters in the end, eh? If we're happy about the end result.

Maria Zannini said...

All work is a brick on the road of experience.

I've only ever rewrote one book. The characters stayed the same, they were fixed in my head, but the premise became more personal and intimate. I think that's what it needed all along.

emaginette said...

The question and its response have given me way too much to think about. Thanks for adding more to the pile with yours. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Patsy said...

Well done for having your A-Z stuff sorted. That's very organised.

Sandra Almazan said...

Crystal, nothing wrong with a little genre mixing.

Maria, your story sounds similar to what I did to "Letters to Psyche."

You're welcome, Anna!

Thanks, Patsy!

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