What is a writer supposed to do with bits of story, backstory and such like left over after publication?
Deliberately Left Over Story
A few years back I was working on what turned into “The Uncovered Policeman; Made For TV” when I discovered a chunk of the story was going in a different direction to the main narrative. I cut it out and dumped it into a separate file, summed up three thousand words in five lines and carried on.
Three thousand words, it was a lot of work, I wasn’t going to waste it, surely? Certainly not.
I added a few characters and followed the narrative. I ended up with one of my longer stories, “While Bees Sleep.” A story described by one reviewer as “a fine contribution to the literature of the body-positive movement.”
My last novelette, D-Day for Ruth is very much a one Point of View (PoV) piece. However, there are other characters in the book and to make the story work, they need a backstory.
One of the backstories developed into an interesting narrative of its own.
I was tempted to write it into the timeline of the existing story. I soon realised that it would involve extending the story beyond the ending as it exists. Effectively, it would become a different story.
I think it may appear as a second story however, it lacks an ending … Perhaps, one day!
The Unfinished Book
A third type of left over material is the incomplete work.
I have a half finished science fiction book. I think it has a rather good plot. I’d got to an ending … except as an early reader pointed out I give away the ending on the third page! That, he pointed out, makes reading the book rather pointless.
On re-reading after that blow, I discovered that I also break an established rule of the universe I set it in, which was very silly.
I still hope to return to this one and straighten out the mistakes.
So, No Waste
As you’ll see from the examples above I hate waste! It doesn’t mean that I don’t have old ideas, half paragraphs and unfinished stuff floating around. While some writers may discard work, I don’t; everything is recycled eventually.