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  1. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    How many times do you rework a story?

    Discussion in 'Short Stories' started by deadrats, Oct 9, 2018.

    You know, the difficult ones? There are some short stories that I end up developing a love-hate relationship with, a feeling that seems to alternate between drafts as I continuously fail to get it right. Don't get me wrong. I don't always suck. And sometimes I get lucky and things come out pretty clean and don't need too much more. But the other ones... I don't want to give up on about 50 to 75 percent of the short stories I write. So, I keep trying to get them right. I don't know. I guess maybe I have to write a ton of bad stories to write a few good ones. If you are a prolific writer, do you scrap things that aren't working and just move on or do continue to work and rework on them? Revision takes a lot of time and effort. Is it worth sinking it into stories that just aren't working?
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
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  2. Nariac

    Nariac Contributor Contributor

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    Sometimes I've had stories where the idea tree has grown out of control and I have to prune some unnecessary branches so we can see the trunk again. In other words, too many subplots. Rather than trying to force them in, it's best to cut them for clarity. Besides that, sometimes I've had ideas which just weren't workable, usually when the plot had evolved in the creation stage, and some ideas were left by the wayside because they no longer fit in. Some can be made to work, others needed to be axed.

    I guess it depends on how much you love the story, or the particular story arc in question, really. And how much you want to tell it, to convey whatever message it is you're trying to convey.
     
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  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    One novel, my first, I had to step away from because it just kept morphing. It started as an amnesiac forced into solving a series of murders and just spiraled off out of control. I took a character mentioned in one line from a paragraph including back history and turned him into the new MC. It was totally bizarre.

    Right now my WIP is getting a major overall because in order to make decent cuts and shape the story I squished the dual pov from director to fourteen year old star to just the director. I'm not just killing my darlings -- it's a full out slaughter.

    My technique with short stories is I usually write them in one shot and polish them or start them and finish them months (or years) later when their ending strikes me. I only started writing shorts when I joined this site so they still feel kinda new to me. There are some that I've dropped for good cause I could never discover their 'core.' The reason for me to write them. One was called Elbow Room and was a satire about a dystopian future about over crowding.
    Maybe set a goal -- like one short story a month? That way it doesn't matter if you start five and only finish one. You'll still have one finished and at the end of a year you'll have 12 -- enough for a short story collection.
    Tough to say cause at some point you have to follow through on something cause all stories have issues. I stop when the issue is not easily fixed and possibly might not even be fixable. A few years back I worked on a novel called Switch-Hitcher and I couldn't ground my characters in a sense of reality. The tone was far too light and false, and I couldn't resolve it. Hence I stopped writing it. Another novel, this one I was excited about, went through about four drafts from polishing to switching pov to see if I could solve the problem with the story. Again tone. It was a grim novel, kinda dystopian in the vein of Orwell, but I couldn't lock down that grimness. It was cheesy when it needed to be solemn and purpley when it needed minimalism. I think (because it was over ten years ago) that I needed to grow as a writer to do it justice. Maybe I'll go back and try again -- who knows. The interesting thing about the more I write, is how transparent my weakness become.
     
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  4. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Shelved is probably a better term. I don't really throw away much because there are always things in my projects that I like, but if the labour to revision ratio is more than the labour to starting over ratio, then yeah, I put it aside to maybe go back to later. Some times I part out the good bits to other more successful stories later on, sometimes I go back with fresh eyes and make them work, and some of them are still sitting there waiting. If you're working, though, and trying to get things out fast, outlining can be your best bet in making sure you don't get too far off track. That's not saying that if something is changing into something better to ignore that, but having goals to work through are a good thing. It's all a delicate balance. More importantly, though is making sure you're happy with what you're writing, because if you don't enjoy it, there's really no point. Unless it's paying bills, but that's depressing so we're not talking about it here.
     
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  5. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    I thought about this exact question a lot, because this same thing you described happened to me. My conclusion: If I have a story (broadest possible definition) to tell and, if this specific way to write it is not working, I need to find another way. The story is still worth telling.

    If I get a hint that something is not working from gut-feeling or because it just doesn't connect properly to the other chapters/stories down the line, I find out why. Is it because some setting/plot related part is not completely thought out? If yes then I find the solution and write it like it should be written.
     
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  6. Drinkingcrane

    Drinkingcrane Active Member

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    I’ll do a couple edits then let the story be. I’m not trying to create a master piece. I just need experience writing and I don’t want to get bogged down in editing. I have experienced doubt about a piece while editing I just assumed it’s an illusion. I have also been quite impressed by a piece only to discover later it is quite flawed. I try to move forward with writing and editing despite these emotions.
     
  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    This is exactly where I am with one piece. I've done a few rewrites and major changes. Things still don't feel right. Like what you said I need another way to tell this story. That's exactly what I was thinking. Man, I've put so many hours into this one. I've probably spent a good year letting this one sit and coming back to it. Well, all that time and it kind of just hit me that I should write it with a different POV. Change third to first. I'm not going to do that right away because I feel like I need another break from that one, but I do have more stories to revisit. Who was it who said writing is rewriting? That so is the case for me a lot of the time.
     
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  8. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    Me, among others :D

    I've written only four shorts that can stay as they have been (out of about twenty). For all others, my shit-detector screams 'Something doesn't fit'. I'm tired of the perpetual re-writing circle during the time I need to fix my setting-issues. First: Pinpoint the problem. Second: Fix it. Then: Write.
     
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