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

Site Review: Writelink [Guest Post by Jean Knill]

What Can WriteLink Offer You?

Jean Knill is an talented writer and I’ve adored reading her lively and genuine voice. You can read more about Jean and her writing life on her blog, Jean’s Musings and at WriteLink.

As one of the millions who’ve always wanted to write, I started freelancing in the 1980s. I achieved some success among UK specialist newspapers, magazines and trade journals. Then life took over and, single again, I had to concentrate on a day job to house, feed, clothe and entertain my children.

I always knew what I wanted to do when I was able to retire from the day job. One day I was silver surfing when I found Writelink. And that’s when my rejuvenated writing took off.

Writelink is a UK based website with an international membership. Reading membership of the site is free, but to get the most from it, you pay £15 a year to become a writing member. The core group of these members are the most supportive folk you could wish to meet.

The site has been through many stages of development, but when I got involved, there were already a number of helpful sections. In the Arena, writing members can post work in progress for others to review and give a star rating. Arena sections allow for articles, short fiction, book chapters and poetry, but only one at a time is allowed in each.

The ambition of all new members is to get a total of 40 stars on piece of work, so it is spotlighted and moved to a permanent section. Other work is removed after 10 days, but during that time, authors can note the comments of their peers to help them edit and polish their work. They might also get views on markets and how to target them.

Once a writer is spotlighted, they can submit to the Resources Section. Anyone who is already published will receive automatic spotlight status when they join. New work is added to the Resources section each month, when new submission guidelines are issued for the next lot. Authors are paid £20 for work accepted for Resources. Not long after I joined, my piece on Making the Most of Writelink was accepted for Resources. Another article of mine, Internet Middle Men, is currently featured.

Other helpful sections of Writelink are a library of e-books, free for members, and lists of markets and competitions, which are updated monthly. Writelink also runs its own monthly competitions, which are great fun. There is also a forum for members to chat, get more advice, or share their successes and their grievances.

Many of the site developments over the last couple of years have been controversial. The latest is the addition of a blog site, which will eventually swallow all the other sections from the old site, and do away with it. It’s happening slowly and carefully, and getting lots of feedback from members. The one downside is that, as members take on the blogging, they use the old site less, so it’s more difficult for new members to get enough reviews to become spotlighted.

I try to get there as much as I can, but it tends to be in bursts now, since my writing has taken off in different directions, and I’m really busy. But I know I have a huge debt to repay to Writelink and its members. Recently I posted a children’s story in the Arena hoping for some helpful reviews, which I received. So then I made time for about 10 reviews of other people’s work in the Arena.

I’ve dabbled with other writing communities, but never found the same kind of support, or the number of good virtual friends. I’m so pleased I found Writelink first.

Have you had experiences with Writelink? What do you think of the site and the services it provides? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Write With WriteLink!