Saturday, March 10, 2007

Waste not, want not: Recycle! Recycle! Recycle!

So often these days we are taught the importance of recycling. Where I live, the council expect us to put out a blue container for food waste, a larger green one for tin cans and a special bag for plastic bottles. We take glass bottles and old newspapers and magazines to a special recycling container ourselves and everything else goes in our dustbin.

Of course, recycling is important. It helps the environment. But have you ever thought of recycling your writing? By this, I mean digging out your old stories and articles that have been relegated to the back of the drawer or are languishing on disk somewhere.

My first attempt at novel writing was around eight years ago. I had the idea of writing a crime fiction novel about a young girl who went missing after chatting to someone on the Internet. At that particular time, the Internet was fairly new over here. I only knew of one other person who was connected up in my hometown. Of course, there would have been more, it’s just I didn’t know anyone.

I wrote the first few chapters and then ran out of steam. Looking back on it now, I doubt if that book would have got published in any case, I have progressed as a writer during the last eight years. However, nothing was wasted. It was a learning experience for me.

Previously, I had only written short stories, so the novel format was a new thing. I learned how to create cliff hangers and introduce secondary characters etc. Now this brings me nicely onto one such secondary character. I loved one of my villains so much in that particular book that I brought him into my book, Return to Winter. It’s a romantic suspense that will be published by The Wild Rose next month. The beauty of this was I had already created a life for Lawrence Black. I already knew his background and most importantly, what made him tick. Return to Winter is not the same book by any chalk of the imagination. I believe it’s a far superior work to Caught in the Web [my earlier half finished novel].

Don’t just recycle your characters either, what about your plots? If something didn’t work as a short story, how about writing it from another character’s point of view? Or rewriting the piece as a play or to spark the idea for a novel?

As well as dusting down Lawrence Black and giving him an important role in Return to Winter, I also used the same setting in South Wales. The story is set around a fictional place called Pontcae which is close to Cardiff Bay, a real setting. I had already carried out quite a lot of research into Cardiff Bay and the surrounding areas for Caught in the Web. So it all came in handy.

Think about your own unpublished work. Have you got a short story that got rejected or you never sent out in the first place? Is there anything you could do with it? Do you have a character you’ve stuffed away in a drawer, never to see the light of day any more? Bring out your dead and breathe some life into them!

Recycle! As well as being great for the environment it’s also a great way to spark off your interest in work you thought was long since dead and buried.


Lynette writes romantic comedy as well as romantic suspense. When she’s not writing, she works as a counselor for a local cancer charity. To find out more about her publications, please visit her website:

Return To Winter
Crimson Rose

When Stephanie Baynham comes home to Wales , the lover she ran out on nine months ago, Dylan Pryce-Jones, is waiting at the airport for her.

Will he understand why she left him without warning, during the afternoon of Matt and Sandy's wedding celebration?

Later, she returns to her apartment and finds a threatening message scrawled on her mirror: "You're Dead!" Could her life really be in danger?


Sonja Foust said...

I'm laughing because that "bring out your dead" line reminded me of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Seriously, though, I do that too with my old manuscripts. In fact, my first Faery Rose, coming out March 23, came from the first two chapters of a novel that flopped in my early writing career. I broke it out one day, edited the crap out of it, and now it's published! So hooray for recycling!

Lynette said...

That's great news, Sonja! Three cheers for The Recyclers!

I like Monty Python as well. :)

Marianne Arkins said...

You're absolutely correct in this. I have a novel I wrote and ended up hating the heroine... but loved the hero. He'll be in a different story soon with a much better matched mate.

Writing prompts become short stories, stories become novels... If something sparked my interest there must have been a reason for it. I just need to find where it fits.

Great post!

Lynette said...

Thanks, Marianne. I just hate to think of all the good bits and great characters going to waste. I hope to see your hero turn up soon somewhere!