Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Writers often hear the advice, "Never, ever throw anything away!" I agree, and wanted to share a little bit about how I've reduced, reused, and recycled things from a writing perspective:

-In 2007, a nonfiction article I wrote about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade was in Spider magazine. I had plenty of research on the topic, and decided to try my hand at writing an historical fiction picture book about the same subject. I'm proud of the story that resulted and feel like it has a really good chance at someday being in the hands of a reader! My critique group partner, Rae Ann Parker, has recently done this same thing with her research on the Natchez Trace. RRR Lesson: use your research for more than one project.
-Also regarding Spider magazine, they once asked me to take a few characters I'd created and write several additional short stories with thoughts of possibly turning it into a book. While the book didn't pan out, they did end up buying several more of the stories, and Iggy and Sal, Pest Detectives, will appear in three issues in 2010! Yay! RRR Lesson: Good characters = series/serial potential.
-While I was writing SELLING HOPE (due next fall from Feiwel & Friends - yip!), I came up with a character named Glory. I fell in love with her - she's a special needs character who doesn't think twice about telling you The Truth As Glory Sees It. But she wasn't right for SELLING HOPE. So instead, I moved her to a WIP, an early middle grade mystery in which she became the protagonist's next door neighbor. The perfect fit! RRR Lesson: Good characters can find a home in a number of stories.
-I've had this metaphor stuck in my head since I wrote it in a journal in college (!) : two people who, like jigsaw puzzle pieces, seem to fit together perfectly at first, but then when you hold them up to scrutiny, you see that there are gaps where they don't meet and spots where the fit is simply too tight. (Too, pieces forced together like that are difficult to pry apart.) I've never been able to use it in a story, but while researching my latest MG novel set on Route 66, I've discovered that a popular tourist spot is a jigsaw puzzle factory! Maybe this one will finally make the cut! RRR Lesson: There is a time and a place for EVERY chunk of your writing.
-Blog posts seem like they would find a great home again in an SCBWI regional newsletter, or your church bulletin, or your alumni publications. RRR Lesson: Shop your words and see if you can build a larger readership.

So, you tell me: have you ever recycled your writing/research/characters? If so, how?

1 comment:

Rae Ann Parker said...

What a great way to look at characters, ideas & research. And yes, let's hope some of this recycled writing gets into the hands of readers!