Posts Tagged ‘character’

When is a Story Truly Dead?

I hear it in interviews, from my writer friends, at book signings – the novel that went into a drawer, never to come out again.  Their first or third or eighth novel that was so bad it didn’t deserve to see the light of day.  The novel that, for all intents and purposes, was dead.

But do stories ever truly die?

I admit I can be somewhat unfocused.  For every finished story I have there lies four more abandoned, forgotten, lost to time and space.  They’re dead, right?  If I haven’t thought about them in a decade, then obviously they’ve kicked the bucket, shuffled off their mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible, right?

Wrong.  So very very wrong.

It seems that any story I put real thought into, where I spent any time at all thinking about plot and/or characters, whether I got two pages or ten chapters, never dies.

Recently my muse blessed me with a plot for a story that I considered so dead I had already stolen two of the main characters for another story.  The scifi series I worked on as a teenager continues to give me scenebunnies.

Perhaps most telling of all, the dragon story I wrote when I was twelve (starring my and my cousins’ extremely thinly veiled counterparts) occasionally rears its head, bringing promises of intrigue and betrayal.

What do you do when old stories won’t die?  Maybe it’s not worth it to kill them, but I feel bad when I’ve got a story idea that’s been sitting there for a decade and I haven’t gotten around to it.

Do you have stories that are really, truly, dead?  What was it that killed them – plot, characters, marauding alpaca? What’s the longest you’ve gone from putting a story away for “good” and when they reared their head again?  (It’s 16 years for me on the dragon story.)