Saturday, February 11, 2012

Can This Story Be Saved?

Years ago, I wrote a short story that I liked very much. I couldn't find a publisher, so the story sat in my drawer for a couple of years. An opportunity came along to write a romance novella for inclusion in an anthology. I still liked the story, so I dragged it out and revised the word count upward by adding a new ending.

When the anthology project fell through, I began to think the story was jinxed. I liked my revised plot, but it needed more excitement, so I added a different ending and turned the romance into a romantic thriller. Still there were no takers. So the novella went back in the drawer for a couple of years.

I just finished a major project and didn't want to start a new book immediately, so I pulled out the novella, printed it out and reread it – not bad, but not great. So now the question is to spend the time revising it or to let it go.

My choice right now is to revise. It promises to take more time than I expected, but I think in the end it will be a good project. Some of the faults I found in the manuscript are:

  • The opening is slow and doesn't have enough foreshadowing to pull the reader forward. I hope to solve this by putting more of the mystery up front.
  • The middle of the story doesn't work well now that I've changed the ending. Some of the scenes and characters are superfluous.
  • The ending is too skimpy. I rushed it because I didn't have a good handle on the outcome. It need significant changes.
So can this story be saved? I think so. Al least I will try. The first tasks are to make a good time line. The events have to lead into each other since this is now a mystery. The second task is to revisit the character profiles and make sure the characters fit. This includes adding some new characters and deleting others. I also need a good plot summary. It should fall out of the other two tasks.

It's going to take work, but I think it will be fun. I'll keep you up to date on progress.

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