My very first ever novel was titled Happiness Hills. I completed that bad boy in 6 months and promptly submittted to publishers. You can imagine the results. I edited, edited, then edited some more. That’s me editing this manuscript. I just did not understand what was wrong with it. One con-artist agent and two less than legitimate publishers later, I still hold the unpublished and completely unpublishable Happiness Hills in a little file on my hard drive. Well, it’s hand written in about five notebooks too, because I didn’t have a laptop then so I wrote it by hand first, and then typed it.
Happiness Hills is the story of a demon who holds a small town hostage. No one can get in or out each winter as he picks them off one by one. He always leaves a few alive by spring because he doesn’t want to cut off his power supply. He lives off their souls. Anyway, Audrina comes along and he’s found that she is the key to him breaking free and entering the world beyond Happiness Hills. Chaos ensues. At the end, all but four are dead and Audrina and Caleb fall in love. Oh, and she’s pregnant. Too bad the child isn’t Caleb’s. Hint: Its eyes glow in the ultrasound.
Yeah, it’s not only a very stretched plot (as in unbelievable to the extreme) but the writing is…oh my, it’s just not very good. The thing is, this manuscript is like one of my children. I’m attached to everything I’ve written, but Happiness Hills was the first I’d sat down and seriously written. The first novel I completed. The characters were the first I’d developed carefully and the plot I’d researched and even made a family tree for the town. Insane. It breaks my heart that these characters are just collecting dust in their improbable little story.
So…I had an epiphany the other day. The characters are good. I’m not being arrogant. They really are. The basic concept of the town and how it operates is good. Small town, no outside contact because of the location, the way inbreeding can…slow things down, it’s all good. All elements that could turn into something great. I overhauled the plot, just about finished the new Happiness Hills outline, and I’ve tackled rewriting the first 50 pages. Know what? I’m excited about the rebirth of my baby.
The new plot? A small town way out in the sticks. Suicide rate is sky high. Town is convinced they’re cursed. Audrina comes in to investigate, she’s a paranormal writer and investigative journalist. Caleb is a hot carpenter/lawyer, his father Tom is on the local police force. Cliff is a 40-something attractive man who wouldn’t mind catching Audrina’s eye. Caleb is not impressed. Christophe is the entity they know is causing the deaths. But is he man or myth? The police chief has given up on investigating any of the deaths seriously. One of them is a murderer. But who?
Okay, sucks as a summary. I’m working on it.
What’s my point? I know, it’s always so hard to see. I’m so rambly and round-about with everything. I’m saying don’t ‘write off’ your old writing. The ideas are probably worth looking at again. You never know where a diamond might be hiding in the rough.
14 thoughts on “I Think I Have a Diamond.”
No, I don't 'write off' my old writing either. yes, it sucks from both a writing pov and plot pov but, I don't care what anyone says, the *passion* in those words is amazing. No doubt many of these novels should be entertaining the dust bunnies to much hilarity, but, if you can see the diamonds in the rough then it wasn't wasted.Not that I think any writing is wasted. It all points toward a goal and that's your million or so words of crap. Doesn't mean to say the original idea or characters didn't have some worth. I'm not actually a believer in the 'trunk it' mentality. I think one should trunk truly awful writing, not necessarily the ideas behind it.
It sounds great. Stick with it. I love it when an idea gets re-ignited.
makoiyi:Excellent points. I was really sad when I put this one away. I did believe some things were too awful to bother resurrecting. The thing is, this story was the first time in a long time that I recall being really passionate about something. Having to set it aside really broke my heart. You're right, no writing is wasted. It's all a learning exercise and if you learn something, but can't use that particular story, it still served a purpose. As for trunking, I don't believe in it anymore. I'm looking at other manuscripts that I either trashed half-through or buried because the editing was too monumental. There are probably many more ideas hiding in there. Thanks for commenting. It's good to hear someone else digs through their old stuff too. I'm actually having so much fun reading this old stuff, recapturing the energy that went into the words.Tahlia: I will definitely stick with this one. I'll update when I get this plot figured out.
Where do you get these gifs? You're scary, woman!I am the poster child for breathing new life into old stories. I've done it twice and both of them sold.Your new story sounds fresher and better conceptualized. That's always a good sign. Your enthusiasm is palpable too. And that's the best news of all.I'm happy for you. You're in a good place.
Thanks, Maria. I have learned a lot about plotting and characterization since then. We won't mention the telling and stuff that is so painfully obvious in the original manuscript. I was trying to decide whether to remove it from the hard drive to be honest. I decided to do a farewell read and a light bulb went off. Yes, I think I am in a good place. It's nice to be excited again. I've been editing and querying for so long that I lost that feeling. It's…nice.
Hi! New follower here, your awesome little movie was a thumbnail that sucked me in from another blog.Excellent post, and I totally agree. Sometimes it is so hard to see the diamond in your work unless you stand back a little and breathe on it. I don't trash my old stuff. I have a file full of ideas and scribblings, and some is just junk (right now). But who knows what will come out of it?I think your new plot is interesting! I'd love to watch it progress.PS – I love Clive too.
Thanks and welcome to the Edge, Corinne. That thumbnail? Type in writer on the photobucket search bar and this comes up as one of the first. I had to post it. Definitely very similar to what writing/editing is like for me…except I don't bleed like that guy does.I'll have to check out your blog, anyone who can see Clive's awesomeness is definitely worth checking out. I'd have his picture all the way down the sidebar, but someone told me that was too weird. Even for me. 🙂
Your cartoon is delightfully horrid. I linked to your blog in Goddess of the Corn today. I think we're all in the editing mode right now. 🙂
Why thank you, Mrs. Swore. Yes, it seems many of us are in the process of ripping our babies to shreds. They say it's good for the soul, this editing…
My three year old says he wants me to type like that scary guy you have on here and bleed on the computer. Twisted little critter. I think what he really wants is permission to bang on the keyboard like that.
Haha. Do it, without the bleeding of course.
I liked the Original HH. Yes, unrealistic, but then, aren't most supernatural horrors, by definition?So, I'd love to read the new, improved version, when it's available. (That was a hint, Renee.)
I was hoping you'd be the first to read, Paul. Since you did help remove a lot of awfulness from that first draft. Don't worry, I'm keeping a saved copy and a hardcopy of the original. It was the very first after all. 🙂
I've been putting one down and picking it back up for 10 years. I polish it to a gloss that could cause retinal damage and put it down thinking, "enough is enough!" Six months later I'm dusting it off again.Glad to see I'm not the only one who can't let go. Good luck and I'll check back in to see how it's going.