My advice of the day to all writers out there: save everything. Never toss an old version of your work. Really.
Case in point: My GAN. The Great American Novel has been around in various forms since 1994. There are LOTS of previous versions, dead scenes, discarded characters, etcetera. Read: fodder.
Today's the deadline for submitting a story to the Writers of the Future Contest, last quarter 2005. So, two days ago, I started to think about writing a story to submit. (Have I mentioned that I work well under pressure? And that Procrastinators United wanted me to be its Spokesperson, but the reps never got around to sending me the forms?) When I realized that I didn't have one fresh creative thought in my head, I hit my files.
I found the start of a short story dating back to 1997. Good start--funny protag, a magical practitioner living in modern times, being told that she must marry by midnight. That's it; no more story. Huh. Okay, so then the thinking part started. I fleshed out the character and family history, tossed out the pre-conceived magic and created new definitions/rules for power. Began writing. Needed a spiffy challenge for the protag to overcome. And then I remembered a previous version of my GAN, from 2001. The GAN's protag overcame a spiffy challenge, but I wound up cutting the events that led to that challenge, as well as that entire scene. So...a tweak here, more polished writing there, and voila, my short story now had the challenge scene. The ending wrote itself. Which was a good thing; let me tell you, all that research is exhausting.
I think the story's actually decent. I'm going to finish polishing it today, then get it out for the contest. Wish me luck.
And remember: Save all your files. You never know when those deleted scenes will come in handy.
And Now, My Almost-Four-Year-Old Son's Dream From Last Night
"I had only good dreams. No bad dreams. There were good doggies, and good monsters, and good friends, and good family. And there was a bad monster, but I punched his head off."
Jackie's Submission Update
Alas, Agent No. 14 took a pass on the partial of the GAN. Either it was the Challenging Marketplace Form Rejection, or the Lacked Sufficient Enthusiasm Form Rejection; I'll have to double check. Or not. So the GAN is back down to three agents.