History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Question from the Audience: De-Trunking a Story

I’m back today with another question from the audience!

Do you have any advice on trying to “de-trunk” and resuscitate a story you really liked? Like, how do I know if it’s time? How do I find the good bits without holding onto the ones that just aren’t working?

So remember how I talked about stories that don’t work and trunking a story previously? Those were leading up to this post!

When it comes to bringing a story (or novel) back out of the trunk, for me, it generally means that I’ve found a new way to tell that story. Sometimes, I knew what needed to be done before I trunked the story, but either time constraints or other demands said that I couldn’t do a complete rewrite of the story at that time. Other times, it’s taken intervening writing to help me figure out how to fix things with a trunked story. Either way, though, for me, de-trunking a story generally means rewriting it from the ground up.

As for figuring out when it’s time, I have a running list of the pieces of stories that never came to fruition in one way or another or have been trunked, so while they’re not constantly in my mind, they’re near enough that I can glance through that list from time to time. By keeping them just outside of my peripheral vision, but near enough that I can turn my head to see them, so to speak, my brain can sometimes turn them over during downtime, which may help me figure out how and when they’re ready to be fixed.

In terms of finding good bits and not holding on to the ones that don’t work, that can be a balancing act. I’ll generally copy the things I think I might want to keep into a new document, and then see if I can work them into the story as I rewrite it. But I also try not to be too attached to those bits, since sometimes they wind up not working in the rewritten story. Knowing which bits work and which bits don’t takes some practice, which is generally best gained by trying and failing.

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