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A Writer On Writing: New Stories For Old

Sally Jenkins advises writers to rework some of their old matrial which failed to make it into print.

We’ve decided to decorate the ‘office’ (or rather the tiny room off our bedroom which estate agents call a ‘dressing room’ and most of the neighbours have turned into an en suite). This has meant emptying the room completely – including all my writing files dating back to the millennium – which is when this room last had a make-over.

“You can get rid of all those, can’t you?” said my husband.

My first inclination was to refuse to throw away so much as a single sheet of my scribblings but eventually I did agree to have a sort through them. In the end a lot of things went – stacks of rejection letters (why did I ever keep those in the first place?), articles and features that never made it into print and whose ‘hook’ has long since passed and stories that are not suited to the narrow range of magazines that now take them.

However, I did put aside a few things that can be recycled. I found a story with a neat twist ending of the type favoured by Take a Break and, with the benefit of 10 years hindsight and a better knowledge of the womag market, I think I now know how to improve it. I need to change the male point of view character to a female, inject more dialogue and tighten the whole thing up.

And if the story is a success, I’ll be using the money on some curtains or wallpaper!

Try digging out some of your own very old writing and look past what might be a cringe-worthy style. Are there some ideas there that, with re-working, would suit today’s publications?


Do visit Sally@s Web site http://sallyjenkins.wordpress.com/


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