Bringing New Life to an Old Story

Don’t lose hope if brainstorming isn’t working, try visiting your old works, like you do when blogging.

birds-1798765_1280bBecause not all stories are meant to be written the moment they pop up their little heads, I file those beauties—old outlines, writing ideas and abandoned WIPS—away for my future self.

Diving into these files can be an education. I’m always surprised by my work. Before I learned most of the rules, I had freedom that I wouldn’t mind having again.

Remember to be kind to yourself. We learn more about the craft each day and when we do, our outlook changes with it. The root or core of your original story may be awesome, but the execution felt off, couldn’t face the brutally honest critique, or the work of putting it all together was overwhelming.

If you find what you’re looking for,  you may have to cut it down the bone. Here’s edward-lear-1823638_1280what I do. First, I rip it into manageable pieces and rearrange the bits. Some chunks land back in the file folder and others make holes I filled in. I’m sure you know the rest.

If revisiting your work doesn’t help, sometimes reading sparks new ideas. Things that help me are: how-to writing manuals, old diaries—mostly my own, checking old letters or emails and finally old family photos.

Have you ever done this? What works best for you?


Gleaned from:


35 responses to “Bringing New Life to an Old Story

  1. Ideas, plot lines, characters, etc. are stored in a folder. When the time is right, they get their moment of glory. It happened that I could combine a new character with an older plot line. As writers, we grow; therefore, we can easily return to previous (at that time perhaps only mediocre) ideas and turn them into amazing stories.

  2. Looking at old family photos is a neat idea to trigger new ideas. It’s interesting where we find inspiration.

  3. I do the same. I file away the story ideas that springs out of nowhere in a folder. Just recently created subfolders by genre and moved my story ideas into the new folders. Before then, it’d been awhile since I reviewed them.

  4. I do sometimes jot down plot ideas as they come to me, although I normally just try to remember them. Heh. That’s a good idea to go back to old work and see what’s there and what can be revived.

  5. I wrote so much when I was younger that I have hundreds of ideas I could revisit. I’m rewriting one now that I wrote in my early twenties.

  6. Great idea. I have a dedicated folder for that too. I also have a file in that folder with names I like, names that sprang in my mind during my daydreams. Mostly those are not the generally accepted English names but the ones I could use in a fantasy setting, made-up names. Sometimes, when I need a name for my new fantasy story, I browse that file.

  7. I have a list of story ideas. Whenever a story really starts to take root, I write a little for it and plot it out before setting it aside for the future.

  8. You always have such insight and great advice, thanks for sharing it!

  9. Yes, I do. I have journals, files-more than one in my computer and old stories. OneNote and Scrivener are great for a filing system. Love’em.

  10. Even though I’m not writing books, I always find your ideas helpful when I’m writing a review. Saving this one too:)

  11. I’ve got a few folders full of scraps of stories and ideas – newspaper articles, a line of dialogue jotted on a napkin, etc. You just never know what’s going to spark the next story or novel, or re-ignite a current one. 🙂

  12. I am a strange idea machine. Finishing work is more a problem than coming up with ideas. I’m funny like that. 🙂

  13. Yeah, I’m like Sheena-kay. More ideas than I know what to do with. I’ve altered existing ideas to make them more marketable, but only minorly. I have a computer folder with 30 book concepts at some stage of completion, and a physical story file with at least another 60 ideas. Now I just need some time. =)

  14. Thanks for this advice! Brainstorming hasn’t been working for me and I’ve been frustrated, so I’m going to give this a try.

  15. Some very helpful ideas. Thanks for sharing.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  16. I will often write a post that just doesn’t click, then go back to it months later and see the potential. Love when that happens. Great post, Anna.

  17. Great advice! I have a ton of old story ideas lying around. Maybe some day I’ll get back them, but to reinvigorate the passion I have for a story, I read or watch something that gets me really inspired.

  18. So right! This has been my practice, too..but you put it rather nicely. You were meant to write this..haha

If you're new to writing, ask me anything and if you're experienced, feel free to share what you know. Learning something new in the craft is always welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.