1. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    Recycling

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Beth, Nov 18, 2010.

    Hi guys, I was thinking:

    has it ever happened to you to recycle parts of unpublished works such as sentences, expressions, characters? Do you feel ok about that or do you feel that it's a sign of poor creativity?

    Tks Beth
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I have a lot of fragmentary ideas for characters, stories, sometimes even complete sentences or specific structures, as well a mental library of aesthetic and stylistic influences. A lot of my writing practice is just piecing together different elements until I'm happy with what's happening, and then letting it grow organically, modifying it as I need to, adding or substituting elements, but always in a really self-aware way; I don't really do this 'letting the story write itself' kind of thing.

    So in short, no, I don't think its a sign of poor creativity, in fact it's probably indicative of the exact opposite: surplus creativity.
     
  3. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I build all my stories from fragments. There's a danger that they'll appear fragmented, but this is usually solved by giving the story enough time and rewriting for everything to melt together into a seamless mass.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have just copied and pasted a deep emotional scene from one novel and tweaked it - I couldn't face writing it again just changed the people involved.
     
  5. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a lot of snippets of writing - paragraphs, plot ideas, characters etc. - so sometimes I do end up combining some of them to form one or two pieces. I don't see anything wrong with it. Perhaps if you used the exact same sentences for most of say two supposedly different pieces, it would feel like cheating and being a lazy writer. But if it isn't published and it's just experimenting anyway then I don't suppose it matters too much. Besides, no doubt when we edit our writing, the recycled bits will change.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no... i wouldn't want to... i'd consider it laziness and possibly lack of creativity...
     
  7. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    So when you're writing a poem, and you write a couple of amazing sentences but as a whole you're not happy with it and decide not to continue it, but then use those great lines you've already written in another poem later, you would consider this laziness?
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not sure why it is either lacking in creativity or lazy to use my own work in the way that works best for my stories and my life.

    Some scenes are hell to write if I don't need to go through that again I would rather not.

    Not to mention who else is gonna know unless I am lucky enough to get both books published.

    Also yeah I recycle characters - I have one story set 100 years in future from which I have taken characters from earlier books.
     
  9. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oscar Wilde did it, so I don't see why anyone else can't. :p

    I don't, really. Sometimes I take a passage from an old draft, but I don't write enough poetry to want to re-use images, and my novels I feel like I am always getting better and therefore usually could do better anyway. I've never cribbed from one novel to another - just between drafts, which doesn't count, since that's just part of re-writing. :p

    Bearing in mind deeply emotional scenes, though, I'd think they're way too personal that, even with the same general emotion being conveyed, that the words would have to be so different. Characters have their own specific language that they use with each other, things they know that another character wouldn't... I write at least one confession of love scene a story, because I tend to have romantic subplots (or main plots) and I'd never write them the same. In repeated drafts of a novel I even move it around - one story way back in the day, Melzaar confessed her love to her dude up a treehouse, down a well, in a castle, a garden, a swamp, drunkenly at a party, in a library, by post... Just so that they could look at something different each time, and the emotions could reflect off the setting. That's how much I hate re-using emotional scenes. :p I don't care it was Melly and 'Mite every single freakin' time... The thought of writing the same thing in the same place with the same words in a different draft just made me bored.
     
  10. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've never reused scenes, but I've reused characters several times. I had one story I wrote on for a really long time, but it got worse and worse with each word and it broke my heart because I loved the characters in it :p
    So I put several of them in a new story.

    And then there is this character that is in two stories... (Actually in three, but I renamed her in one of them, and she's turned out quite differently than the other two versions of her, so it doesn't count anymore).
     
  11. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    I have taken ideas that I have liked from stuff that will never see the light of day and included it in stuff I hope to publish. Not actual passages, but characters and ideas. I think this is fine. There is precedent. A number of well regarded authors bring back characters or versions of those characters in a number of works. Michael Moorcock and Kurt Vonnegut immediately come to mind.
     
  12. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Good writers borrow. Great writers steal, even from themselves." ~ T.S. Elliot

    I'm not sure I got that quote down a hundred percent correct. I wrote it from memory after all. :p
     
  13. Beth
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    Beth Member

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    The fact is I'd like to steal some images from a novel I might never publish in the end that were good in my opinion.
    For example there is this guy eating some heart-shaped red jellies. I like the image, it's rather symbolic because he tears them with his teeth in front of a person whose love he's going to reject somewhere in the novel.
    This novel might never get published, or at least it would need to be slimmed down a lot since it's really long, I'm thinking about recycling this or other images which I like but may never see the light of day.
     
  14. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is YOUR work you know what works for it. It doesn't matter what you do with it - it is your creativity that produced it in the first place.

    Andrew Lloyd Webber comes to mind - he recycles his tunes and songs all the time and they work. Whether or not you like his work the man does not lack creativity and he is certainly not lazy. The failed Eurovision tune became a naff saladin days song from an earlier musical that didn't work it then became one of the showstoppers in Jesus Christ Superstar.
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Richard Rodgers took one of the themes he wrote for the 1951 TV documentary "Victory at Sea" and later recycled it in the musical "Me and Juliet". The recycled song was "Only One Love".
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, not at all... i perhaps mistakenly thought the op referred to using lines/phrases/whatevers in more than one piece of work intended to be submitted for publication... which i would not do...

    but i certainly wouldn't dump a good line and never use it, if it merely didn't work in its original place, but could work well elsewhere... that's a given, imo, so i couldn't imagine that was what was being debated...
     
  17. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    OP, it depends on what you mean.

    I think if you take an unsucccessful piece of work that you don't plan to finish or publish, and you revamp a character/scene/etc to apply it to a piece you DO plan to publish, that's all fine and good.

    Just don't regurgitate the same stuff over and over in your published works, as mammamaia said.
     

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