I recently had a chance to discuss revising old stories with an author friend of mine. She was at a crossroads, trying to decide if it was worthwhile to take one of her old works and structure it for the erotica market. She’d assumed, as had I once upon a time, that it would be a process of tweaking the material and much less creative than starting anew.
For me, that wasn’t the case at all.
A couple of months ago, I discovered a cache of old stories—some good, some perfectly awful. I sent a few off to my editor to have her look at them and decide if she thought they had any merit. We both loved one particular story and thought it would be a great candidate for tweaking, editing, and releasing. The story was almost five-thousand words, the characters were interesting, why not?
Three days later, I was ready to pull my hair out. This was anything but easy. I’d had to face and confront my writing from years ago. Instead of editing the work and deepening the emotional intensity, I’d found I’d essentially taken the characters and premise and rewritten it, with a lot of moments where I’d just rolled my eyes or shaken my head in disgust at my writing skills then. It was a frustrating, emotionally draining process.
In the end, it would have made much more sense, and taken much less time, for me to have created the project anew, using the story to inspire new work.
I also recently wrote a project that involved two parallel stories. In one, the older male comes home and finds the younger male bound in a BDSM situation that went awry. In the other, the older male comes home to find a woman bound in a BDSM situation that went awry. I wrote the male/male story first, then took the same eight-hundred word setup, and changed the bound character from male to female.
The stories are quite similar in the end, but the process of making the changes was different, and much easier than the above example. The older male hero in both books reacted very differently to seeing the young woman bound versus the young man. In the end, the male/female one was over a thousand words longer and carried a much more tender theme.
The question of when to revise, when to redo, and when to use a story idea for inspiration is a very individual one, and can vary from project to project. If you’re faced with this, I hope you’ll choose the path that best suits you and the story!
Happy writing and happy reading!