Why editing is sometimes like a home makeover

There’s a building across from where I work. In it’s beginning it was a laundromat I believe.  At another time it was a Sears store. Before it became empty, it was a garage, where people would go to have tires or their oil changed.  It had been empty for a few years, the exterior slowly crumbling and the glass on the garage doors broken.

Then, someone bought the lot and the building.  There’s been a big push in the community to get rid of old crumbling houses and empty buildings lately. Heck the fire departments have a heyday when they get a building to practice on. (Yes they do that around here on occasion.) So when the lot was bought, I thought there would be a lot of noise with a demolition crew coming in.  And yes there was some noise, but the building didn’t go down.

Instead, the new owners brought in some engineers and architects and decided the building was stable enough to reuse. It’s been an amazing process as they raised the ceiling, tore down the exterior walls, and put up a new roof. It’s not done yet, but the changes have been eyeopening.

At times writers will write out a quick story, love parts and hate others. Most of the time, they will send them off to a few markets to see how it does.  Eventually some of those stories will get “Trunked.”  What this means is that they are put away, mostly not to be seen ever again.

Those stories are a lot like abandoned houses.  They sit, taking up room until someone buys the lot. Then the writer has to decide what to do with it.

Some stories, like some houses, just need a bit of TLC.  Instead of new paint on the walls, it might need a slightly different setting. A new roof is repairs on a plot line.  New carpet?  New characters.

Other stories need a lot more work. Like the ceiling raised, or new walls. It might take quite a bit of work on stories like these, but there has to be something that the writer knows will work. It might be a single character, or just the idea of the story.

So go ahead and look at those trunked stories.  Don’t be afraid to knock down some walls or break some glass.  There’s a story in there, you just might have to work at it a bit harder.


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