Regurgitating stories and other mishaps

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I often see writers go "It's an old story I reworked"
Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with an old story being redone — if it's done right.
There is nothing worse than a ten year old story being "updated", because often what the writers do is nothing more than update for new technology.

What they don't do…is update the writing.

We evolve. We learn with each book we write, and improve (hopefully) our writing.
When I read things I've written ten years ago…I want to retch.
We all have those stinkers on our hard drives. Some are still great stories (writing style aside), some are complete dogs.
If you think we can't tell when you didn't put in the effort — think again. There is more to updating an old story for the current market, and most often writers get lazy. After all, they've already told this story once. They've slaved over the keyboard and poured their heart into it.

It takes more than changing the landline to a cellphone. Postal mail to email. A horse and cart to a car. Tapes / Vinyl / CD / Mp3. Stuff like that.
What most writers should do is rework the idea, not the actual written story. But that involves work, you know? It involves retyping all of it, redoing plot lines that no longer work, reworking characters who are out of date. (Speech / Phrases / Jobs etc) Locations change. That store you saw ten years ago, and which plays a major role in your story — it may not be there anymore. The whole neighborhood where you set your story may have gone into decline, and what used to be a high end area may no longer be so desirable.
Heck, the area may have been completely reshaped by a natural disaster. (Think about New Orleans after hurricane Katrina!)
Your research may be completely out of date, but if you made notes that's easy to verify. (Always make notes, and keep them!)

I've been working on a series for a good ten years. I've got a few finished books and…I'll take a hard look at them before they see publication.
If there is a lot to change to make it work — start over.
Starting over gives you a better -up to date- story and it will resonate with today's readers.
Not the ones you were aiming for ten years ago.
Starting over is also a lot less time consuming than sifting through to make sure you catch all those little peculiarities which no longer make sense.
You're bound to miss a few, but your readers probably won't.
Stories shouldn't be cast in iron, with no changes allowed after you've typed "The End".
The world moves on. Make sure your idea does too before you put it out there.

 

Silke was born in Germany, but lives in England. She has written several paranormal romances:   HowlSmittenWatch Me (September 2012) and Caedir (February 2013)

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