Has anyone recycled old off-market or unfinished material for your current work? I've done it and found it a useful creative process.


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I wrote the first draft of Angel With A Bullet over 20 years ago as my first attempt at becoming a published author. A couple of decades, a thousand rejections, and seven or so novels later, I dusted it off and decided to rewrite it since I still enjoyed the story. A few months after the extensive rewrite, it was bought by Midnight Ink in a two-book deal. Just goes to show that writers are stone-cold crazy, but also that one should never give up on a dream.


I enjoy doing just that. I started a manuscript with a character I had written before. The character's voice didnt turn out to be something I wanted this character to be so I rewrote it creating a new character. That novel, Blood Oranges, was just published and now I have a new character I can keep writing.

I've rewritten finished novels, sometimes two or three times.  It looks as though I'm about to do it again.  Mind you, I hate wasting the time to rewrite a full-length novel, but when something doesn't work it nags at me.

I should add that I usually delete starts that did not work.

Sure do. I never throw anything away. I have one full-length and two aborted novels that have no potential on their own, but there are bits in each I may well use if opportunity permits.

Now that you got me thinking about it, i should re-read those to see what can be cannibalized.

I do it all the time. Aside from the creative boost it gives me, it also helps me maintain continuity and consistency in my series.

I wondered about self-plagerism. I hope to publish my first novel, Rim to Rim--Death in the Grand Canyon, someday, but used chunks of the scenery descriptions in an first-person esssay. Does the publication of the essay jeopardize the publication of the novel? 

No, unless there are rights issues, which I doubt there would be at such a micro level. Raymond Chandler is famous for recycling plots and sometimes scenes from his short stories into his novels. THE BIG SLEEP is a weaving together of two previous stories.

Chandler is my role model for recycling short story material into novels. For more detail see my blog post at: http://raymondembrack.blogspot.com/2013/01/adventures-in-plagiarizi...

Aha!  I have recycled short stories into novels. In one case almost literally at the beginning of the novel. This sort of thing happens to me when the story is complex and the ending seems rushed to me.  At that point it nags at me until I write the novel it wanted to be. I should add that story and novel are both in print by major publishers.

Thanks everybody. Very helpful replies.


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