I'm sure (think, hope) that I'm not the only person who has experienced this, so I wondered what people did.
Now I know that it's most likely to be a case of 'it depend on each individual story', but putting that aside, for the moment, if possible, I wondered which of the following was more likely to be the case.
- Do you go through them and adapt the style to suit how you write today?
- Do you just say 'what the heck' fix the typos and glaring differences, and then just share the story?
- Or do you actually rewrite, as in start again, from scratch, i.e. take the basic concept but write the story as if you were going to be writing it today.
I had this issue, to an extent, when putting my Starsky & Hutch and some of my earlier The Professionals stories onto my website, as I know lots of writers do. Unlike some writers, but equally like others, I took the decision not to change them or 'fix' them, but to leave them as they were originally published. Part of my rationale for this was that as writers we do all grow and we are never going to be perfect at any stage, and I don't think it is a bad thing, both for the writers and readers, to see how their style has changed over the years the person has been writing - I always put a written date on my web stories. Another reason for not changing them is that the story is written, finished, published, why do I want to spend time rewriting it and exploring idea, themes I had already written, when I could be writing something completely new?
However, I found myself thinking in an entirely different way when it came to yet-to-be-published stories. I couldn't just fix the obvious errors, etc., as I wouldn't be comfortable or happy with the end result; I'd feel that I'd in some way 'failed' myself as well as anyone who might read the stories. I did make a start on editing one completed more-then-a-year-or-two-ago story (c. 14,000 words), and managed to get through a whole page, before the effort seemed too much.
Now as many of you know, I'm not a huge fan, personally, of the whole editing process anyway. Don't get me wrong, I know it is important, I do do it (at some length), I just don't get any enjoyment out of it, unlike some people who I know actually prefer editing to writing the story. However, I'm not like that; I'm not the kind of writer who writes a plan, then first draft, second draft, third draft, and then rewrites a vast swath of the story during the first editing stage. I've never worked like that in fiction or non-fiction writing; it's not my style. Maybe it's due to having written so many essays over the years, that I tend to write fairly tightly to begin with (albeit quite quickly). Whatever it is just the way I write and have always written; it's the way I find pleasurable.
I have tried the whole planning thing (more than once) both for essays and stories, but for me, it doesn't work for me. Firstly, the results, I feel, are poorer and secondly, I don't enjoy it, and I have to ask what is the point of doing something that you know will make you miserable? I've always been a firm advocate of each writer writing in the way that suits him/her, and that there isn't a 'right' or 'wrong' way of working. Hence, having to do, what would actually be pretty much, a total rewrite does seem a very negative thing to me.
So I think that I'm left with 'if I think the basic concept/idea is a good one and still holds up today' take that concept and actually begin the story again from scratch. I admit that the thought of this has its own degree of negativity, as work already done would be wasted, but I seriously think I could rewrite from scratch considerably quicker than I could do a really tough edit. Or maybe I should just abandon the whole ideas and find new ones.
What do/have other people do/done?