Recycling doesn‘t have to be limited to aluminum, paper, and plastic. I recycle my prose.
Case in point – a while back I had this idea for an Ugly Duckling type fantasy story. It was going to be funny and meaningful… except that it turned out to be trite. So I shelved it, frustrated that the touching story in my head did not translate to something palatable for others when I put it on paper.
Then I had this really sick idea. Instead of a happy ending, what if I threw in this warped Twilight Zone style twist? I honestly didn’t think it would work – trying to combine sick and twisted with humor. So I ignored my instincts and left the story on the shelf.
Then a friend of mine asked me for a short story for his speculative fiction anthology. I dusted off my trite Ugly Duckling story and gave the new disturbing ending a shot. As it turned out, the storyline I doubted actually worked.
The great thing about writing is, nothing is ever a total failure. Even if the end product is a bust, there’s always a chance you can salvage part of it for another project. Use one of the characters in a different storyline, steal that lovely bit of description in another setting, or try a new, out-of-the-box ending and see what happens. The possibilities are endless. I once took a goofy story I wrote in third grade and made it into a funny sci-fi story.
Being ‘green’ with my words presents a fun challenge. Sometimes the end result is a great piece – and sometimes it’s just more fodder for my recycling bin.
Check out my short story, The Witch’s Cure!