Unearth Your Archive Of Fiction Stories

Fiction stories and novels buried in an archive.Most writers have fiction stories from years ago that have since been abandoned to the dark recesses of a desk drawer archive. Some stories never made it past the opening lines, others were just a few chapters away from their dramatic conclusion. While some stories are best left hidden away, others can be revived and fashioned into more exciting plots.

If your current ideas aren’t inspiring you, go digging through your old files to find treasures you may have forgotten that you have! After years have passed, you can read over your partial first drafts with a fresh eye, as if they were written by someone else. Once you find a story that still has potential, read it over and look for areas that can be crafted into a new short story or novel.

Mine the Introduction

Most writers have the peak of their enthusiasm within the first chapter or scene of their story. Introductions bring the first characters and plot points into main focus. It is possible that your characters are incompatible for the story you put them in. A confident, powerful businesswoman may not belong in a sleepy Midwestern town when she’d shine in a bustling city. (Then again, she just might, providing a marked contrast. Your story may vary.) When you can extract characters from a weak plot, you can transfer them to a more exciting storyline.

On the other hand, your plot may shine, but your characters just aren’t interested in seeing the story through. They may be flat and lifeless, and not yield any additional information when you try character building techniques. It may be time to send those characters on their way, and give the story to more enthusiastic protagonists who will care about what’s happening in the world around them.

Dig into the Heart of the Story

For lengthier abandoned manuscripts, it can be harder to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Characters seem to get minds of their own, going off in unexpected directions and wandering away from the story. Plots can weaken and meander, to the point where even you don’t know what is going to happen next.

While many writers prefer the excitement of an unplanned route, others need a solid plot outline to bring their story and characters back on track. Write out an outline of the plot so far, and see where the story is actually heading. If it is workable, then you can revive that story and get back to writing. If not, see what needs to be cut, rearranged, or expanded into new avenues. If you’re at a loss, use a mind map to free associate possibilities for your plot.

Carve Into Your Words

An abandoned story will need a lot of work, and you will need to put on your editor’s hat for awhile before getting back to the writing. Ruthlessly cut into your story, removing anything that is not serving the plot. You can literally do this with a pair of scissors and a lot of tape, or you can cut and paste within your word processing program. If you don’t want to toss out perfectly good writing that just doesn’t fit, put those unneeded phrases into an idea file that you can go over later.

Have you revived an aging story? What ideas do you use when called to rework an unfinished or finished manuscript?

Photo Credit: Orcmid

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Kimberlee Ferrell

As a freelance writer and blogger, Kimberlee Ferrell has developed some keen insights on web publishing. She is capable of crafting superior articles, blog posts, and web copy that can empower your business, helping you to get noticed in the digital sea. She has lived in multiple states all across the U.S., and has a unique worldview and a fresh perspective to incorporate in your freelance writing needs. From the midnight lights of Las Vegas to the down home hospitality of Huntsville, she has used each experience to hone her writing skills and expand her knowledge. Now located in small town Iowa, she has renovated her freelance writer career. Her main areas of focus are tarot, spirituality, and writing.

4 thoughts on “Unearth Your Archive Of Fiction Stories”

  1. i have lots of stories that didn’t make it to paper. dead ideas. maybe i just don’t know how to revive them. now i’m considering your advice. thanks so much, it’s very motivating. you can try our Summer giveaway: chance to win $50 – just grab our badge.

    1. Some stories need more time than others to hibernate so those ones you haven’t been called back to yet may not be ready. But it’s a great idea to browse your own archives of stories and ideas to see if any are waking up anew. 🙂

  2. The last manuscript I finished, came from soemthing that had been sitting in a file on my desktop for a year or so. I hated it when I wrote the first 10 chapters, but for whatever reason, I kept plugging along. When I pulled it out months later, I thought…wow this isn’t bad, so I finishe it. I keep a file on my computer for “Incomplete” works.

    When I have nothing new spinning around my brain, I pull out these old beginnings, and give them a whirl!

    1. Congratulations on finishing the latest manuscript, M. 🙂 I have an old NaNoWriMo novel that’s been shelved for five years now. I’ve been afraid to look at it for fear it is terrible and unsalvagable. lol But maybe I should dust it off soon.

      Having a folder for “incomplete” works is a great idea. I have a “writing” folder and break it up by genre and then published and unpublished works. When something has been in the “unpublished” folder so long I’ve given up on it I’ll shift it over to my “writing archives”. But I don’t have the courage to delete anything. *grins* It’s interesting to consider the different ways we all organize and maintain our writing.

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