Anybody who has written more than a grocery list knows that sometimes stories just bomb. There’s no getting around it – not every idea is destined to live in infamy – I mean live forever…
But we writers really hate to part with our darlings.
They are part of us after all, right?
We put our hearts and souls into them and they deserve to live. Right?
Well, not so much.
Hell, even James Patterson has a bad day, on occasion.
Don’t despair there are things you can do with these terminal cases and I have the list below:
- Take it out back and shoot it. Or burn it, run it through the shredder, hit the delete key. Forever erase it from your mind. This is a tough one though for writers who secretly hide boxes of old stories under their beds. But it’s like ripping a band aid off – it only hurts for a little while.
- Strip it for parts. Even terminal stories may have some redeeming qualities – and perhaps that’s why you want to hang onto it. If so, take what’s usable and get rid of the rest. For example, does the story have a great character, a great name, descriptive passage or some snappy dialogue? Then grab that and put it in a file for future use in a new story.
- Reverse roles. Sometimes a story isn’t necessarily dead but it’s not working. Try a little role reversal. Make your heroine the bad guy and change up your villian to a super anti-hero. Pick a different venue or change the pov (point of view) or narrator. It may be the pick up the story needs to find a second life.
- Submit it to a bad story contest. Truthfully, I’m not sure there is a bad story contest but there is one for bad poetry and they offer prizes and everything. Heck you could even sponsor a bad story contest yourself with a few of your writer friends and start a whole new trend.
- Decoupage it to your desk. You know what that is, right? You take all the pages, glue them to your desktop and then apply thousands of layers of varnish until it is permanently fused to the desk. Doing this can serve as a reminder of what you don’t want to write. Like if you ever forget, you can just look at your desk to see what a dead story is.
- Donate it to your mom’s theater group. Local theater and acting groups often want material. And if the group is truly amateur they may not know it’s a dead story and could be grateful for the donation. However, you may have to attend on opening night, so be prepared.
- Send it out to publishers and contests. As they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the same must be true for stories. In fact, I know it is because I see movies, read books and watch television shows all the time that are utterly awful. Like the old saying goes, there’s a lid for every pot, so I’m suggesting there’s an audience for every story. However, this may require lots of postage or emailing.
That’s my list – feel free to add to the list in the comments below.