Hi Folks, this is Tammie, blog coordinator, our post today comes from Donna Schlacter. She sent me this post earlier this week and I failed to get it ready to post this morning. So, without any further delay, here is Recycling for Writers
We hear so much lately about carbon footprints, greenhouse effect, reduce, reuse, and recycle, that I have kind of closed my ears to all the talk. For me, most of the chatter seems intent on bringing on panic and inducing us to buy into the latest gimmick. In most cases, “they” have an agenda all their own, most of which doesn’t line up with the Word of God.
But that’s not what this post is about. Today I want to share an idea about how writers can recycle. And no, I’m not talking about printing on the back side of paper, although that is one thing you could do. I don’t mean about refilling print cartridges and laser cartridges, although that is a good way to save money. And I’m not even going to suggest you walk to the library or the post office, even though walking is a great form of exercise and saves money on gas.
No, I’m going to talk to you about recycling ideas.
If you’re anything like me, sometimes ideas for books come at the same speed as breathing. I have folders with outlines penciled on the back of a restaurant napkin because I overheard a conversation from the next table. I have notebooks filled with scrawlings about the people I watched at an airport that I was certain would make a great book. I have pictures pulled from magazines, articles from newspapers, and brochures from visitor centers that I was certain would make a good story.
And I think I was right. But that’s not the kind of recycling ideas I mean.
The kind I mean is the book you wrote last week, last year, last decade, maybe even last century, that has languished in a drawer or on a hard drive because, although the story was there, something was missing. Maybe you tried writing from a different point a view. A different genre. A different world. And although you pushed on, forged ahead, and pressed toward the goal, the story fell flat in some indefinable way.
Here’s what I suggest:
Take the story and divide it into three books. Turn it into a family saga, a generational epic, or maybe just a series with the same main characters working their way through their character arc. Maybe what’s wrong with the original story is that it was really too big for the story you tried to fit it into. Kind of like trying to wedge yourself into your high school gym shorts. Too much material.
Add some more plot layers, the ones you would have put in originally except you had to keep word count in mind. Create some new characters, the ones you would have included but didn’t want to confuse the reader with too many new faces. If the original was a romance, add some suspense. If it was a western, add some romance. If it was a speculative, start it in the past. If it was a sci-fi, start it on earth.
The key is, try something completely different. And if the thought of writing a family epic, a generational saga, scares you to death, do it anyway. The worst that can happen is you won’t write the books and the original will continue to languish. In the meantime, you will have learned some important things about yourself as a writer.
And how would I know this, you might ask? Because I just did this very thing this past week. I took a book I already had written and divided it, hacked it up, threw out some plot lines, added in a new set of characters, changed some names, increased the romance and the tension, and came up with the outline for a three-book generational saga.
And the exciting thing is that even though I haven’t written these books yet, I am stoked about the new faces in the mix. I am ready to get started on this, and it keeps me more focused on the brand I’m trying to create for myself as a writer of historical suspense.
Sounds like a win-win-win situation to me.
So go ahead, give it a try. Pull out that old manuscript, divide it up, and create a new set of stories. Let me know how it goes. I want to cheer you on!