The very first full-fledged story/novel I ever wrote initially started off as fan-fiction.
There, I got it off my chest. I took someone else’s characters and played. The stress of coming up with a setting and a timeline and characters that all flowed together was gone, and I just got to have fun.
It has since gone through three massive edits and is undergoing a fourth one — which includes removing one of the three main characters. Since its roots, I have changed the characters completely, changed the genre, and have an entirely different plot line from the original story. Have I written three different novels, then? Each slightly different than the other, each slightly (hopefully?) better?
Here’s the real question: Is it wrong to recycle ideas?
I only ask because a love of my life/bane of my existence is coming up pretty soon: NaNoWriMo. In short, NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) is a competition where you try to write 50,000 words in the month of November. You don’t get anything if you complete it, but you have written 50k words so yay. That’s something.
I’ve participated in NaNo many times. I started the annual competition circa 2007 and have completed it precisely one time. I was in college for a lot of those years with exams, and I fell out of love with writing during that time period — both of which are sort of excuses. But I still try, and usually fail within the first couple days/weeks. It’s kinda embarrassing.
This year, I’m trying NaNo. Again. And this year, I’m cheating.
You’re supposed to come up with a new idea and write. Instead, I am using an idea I had tried writing about a year ago, scrapping 85% of it, and starting again. I like the first chapter and nothing else. Why can’t I start over and use NaNo as an excuse to actually get something done? To actually write? To actually see if I’ve lost my creative edge? It’s worth a shot, anyway. Even if I don’t hit the 50k mark (which is likely), I’m at least writing — and that’s more than I can say for the past couple of weeks.
Any other writers out there trying NaNo? (And anyone else cheating with me? It’s okay to admit it! I won’t tell).