I have a thing for melodrama and characters who have to confront seemingly hopeless situations. I mean, “Les Miserables” is my favorite story ever. I’m also a huge fan of the later Harry Potter books: the edgier, more desperate ones.
It makes sense, then, that I’d write some things that border on melodrama and cross right into it on occasion. It’s the reason I love my first novel, “Life’s Little Jokes,” so much, and also the reason I’ll never publish it. It’s too much of a melodrama. I drag the melodramatic aspects out too much, especially at the end.
MELODRAMA IN THE MIDDLE
I’ve discovered since that novel that melodramatic moments in my writing work better for me toward the center of my novels rather than the ending. (As in, there’s really no need to kill off every single awesome character to get a point across and wrap up the story.) Working on this NaNoWriMo novel, I realized I stole a fair number of melodramatic plot points directly from my unpublishable first novel, and I started freaking out about it for a few minutes. Then I realized I was doing something totally different with those plot points than I had before. They weren’t nearly as much the focus of the overall plot as in the first novel, and they would leave someplace different.
My point is in this post is, I’ve learned that it’s really bad to completely shun an aspect of your writing that’s failed you before. That things didn’t quite gel the right way doesn’t mean what you were trying doesn’t have potential. It’s always important to look at the earliest things you’ve written and examine what about them doesn’t work, and how you could maybe fix that in future projects so you have some great character and plot foundations to build upon.
After all, if you have something as substantial as an entire novel–or even a few short stories–you know you’ll never do anything with in terms of publishing, that’s a LOT of work to just let sit and not take advantage of in the future. It’s all right there. There are things you can use and recycle and adapt and change.