Thursday, January 21, 2016

Salvaging a Bad Story

We all have them.

Awful, horrible stories that we think should never see the light of day. These are words written or art that was crafted from the beginning of your career, or written last weekend when you may or may not have had too much to drink.  Not that I have done that, or not done that.

Just because something you wrote overall is bad doesn’t mean you don’t have a gem buried deep inside the muck. Think of it like a bad movie. Think of it like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Overall this movie is bad. It forgets the mythos that made the franchise popular, and apparently allows for the creation of atomic blast resistant refrigerators.  But there are some great parts. References back to what makes the franchise wonderful can be found all throughout the movie. We see Indie’s first love. There is humor, and even some quality action that is only slightly ruined by an unfortunate camera filter. The movie could have been a great addition to the franchise.

What I am trying to say is that the bones are there.  We have romance, action, an almost quality story line. Only the deep seated mystery needed to be changed. The same is most likely true of that garbage story you wrote. The bones are there you just need to go back to it and find those bones. Pluck out those unnecessary organs, like the inter-dimensional beings that have no business being there.

I recently had to do this with two novels. They had stalled, and a stalled novel can be a death knell. I kept thinking of ways to make it work. Places I could try and bring the plot. The characters had stopped talking to me. I realized I had to go through and perform an autopsy and figure out what went wrong.  I found quite a bit that I couldn’t use, but I also found quite a bit I could, and those parts were the real backbone of my story. I had lost that focus somewhere along the way. Kind of like when I blog but that is a different story.

I am going to go through a similar process for two other blogs I created that I had to step away from. They are up for a little while longer if you care to search for them. One is Jesse Magnan’s Blog of the Lance, and the other is Jesse Magnan’s Blog of the Realms. They are based on two table top games that I ran but had to stop recently for various reasons. But in those blogs (and the various notes I have to go along with them) are  bits of plot, action scenes, characters, and dialogue that I will pull out and combine into a new beast that is still the same (and doesn’t violate any copyright or intellectual property).


Bad work can still have some good writing. The hardest part can be recognizing what is quality versus what is something you are fond of.