Ghosts of Stories Past

Castle ruins on a rocky outrop in the ocean

Dunnottar Castle by spike77 CC 3.0

While I was on my writing hiatus, I read a couple of YA books that I would not normally have picked up…they were free and I had time.

I had a few problems with them but kept reading anyway because a) we’re coming up on end of year and I have a Goodreads challenge to meet and, more importantly, b) I recognized that they are the kinds of books I would have loved when I was a YA.

Reading them also reminded me of a story I tried to write when I was in high school: a fantasy-esque story set in fictional medieval country. I then tore apart my bookshelves trying to find old print outs and old diskette back-ups of the story. I uncovered a few scribbled notes and a handful of typed pages. No full story. Since I was blanking on all my current WIPs, I thought I’d give the story a shot. I had been living with these characters for over a decade (whether actively or subconsciously), how hard could it be, right? This might have actually added to my everything-is-stupid spiral. These characters I’d lived with for so long, this sweeping tale I thought I’d locked away in my brain was…wow…trite and stock.

I was in high school, I should be able to forgive myself, right?

I didn’t expect to find already mined and polished gold, but I thought I’d find a nice solid base that I could jump into editing. Instead, I there were two characters who had no motivation other than in the end they’re supposed to be together even though no one thinks it’s possible…warring families and all. There was a backdrop of palace intrigue but had no idea how to even start writing political wheelings and dealings. To be fair, I have no idea how to do that now.

Nothing had a cause and effect outside of “because this is the way I want it.” I opened the story with people discovering the murdered body of the king. MURDERED BODY OF THE KING. You’d think the aftermath would be some kind of panic, rebellion, bloody power struggle, something other than daily routine….no. Just some people not really liking each other much.

Often times when I find something after months or years, there is always something that surprises me by making me proud to have written it. While I haven’t found it in this story yet, I have to believe it’s there.

Do you guys ever pull out your old stories? What kinds of surprises do you find?