In the summer of 2012, I was discouraged…excited beyond belief, but still discouraged. I had just been told by my publisher that a different story than what I was writing should be book 2 in my series. I was excited because this meant they wanted to publish my book series, but discouraged because what I was writing wouldn’t be part of it. In a way, I have to admit, I was relieved as well. That manuscript revolved around solving a murder and was set in the North Yorkshire Moors. It was dark—too dark for my branding and too dark for me on a personal level. So, what does this have to do with anything? I’m writing it again.
In between blog tours and edits, I’d been working on Evangeline Green’s book. I thought it was the logical next book in the series. She’s in the background of book 2 and I’d been looking forward to writing her story for a while. But, then I got my advance reading copies of How to Lose a Lord in 10 Days or Less. The box sat on my kitchen counter for approximately 1 hour before my mother-in-law grabbed a copy to read. Then she passed it to my husband and by that weekend, the family had read it. We were inhaling takeout Chinese food when the conversation turned to the book: What’s up with Roselyn? Have you written her story? Seriously, I want to know what happened…
I didn’t know what to say. Yes, I’d started her story a long time ago, but that wasn’t the plan right now. The problem was, even though I changed book 2 like my publisher asked me to, I couldn’t change the backstory of the characters in book 3—it’s just who they are. So, the next day I spent the afternoon on Jenna P’s front porch whining about my problems over a glass of well, wine. What to do? What to do? And this was when I decided, with Jenna P’s encouragement, to pull Roselyn’s story back out and dust the cobwebs from its pages.
You may be tapping on your computer screen right now, saying, “Um, E. Michels, you just said it was too dark. How are you going to write something that doesn’t suit you?” Well, I now have a plan for that…
When dusting off an old idea, don’t stop at a cursory cleaning, give it a makeover!
Change the setting. This is one way I’m changing this dark story to make it fit what I write. I’m moving it to cheery London! As soon as I made this change all the light bulbs went off. Simply by adjusting the setting, new opportunities arose and the plot went in a totally different direction.
Change the dynamics. In the original plot of this story, the hero was presumed guilty of murder and was trying to clear his name. Hello, darkness and depression. I changed this to everyone believing him to be innocent except for the heroine. To her, he is strutting around town when he should be in chains and she is determined to set things right, even if she is a diva in society and not a detective at all. With this one change of the dynamics of the situation, this dark story took on a much lighter tone.
By changing a few key elements, I now have a totally different story with the same inciting incident and the same characters. No matter what you’re dusting off from years ago, remember it doesn’t have to be the same story now. If your writing has changed and evolved, allow your story to do the same.
Have you ever dusted off an old idea and put a different spin on it? Let’s chat.
~ E. Michels
Below is the *REAL* book 2 of the Tricks of the Ton series, Desperately Seeking Suzanna. And, in honor of old ideas and new releases, I’m going to give away a copy to one lucky commenter. (US and Canada only.)
Her Cinderella Moment
Sue Green just wanted one night to be the pretty one. But a few glasses of champagne and one wild disguise later, she’s in some serious trouble. Who knew the devastatingly handsome face of Lord Holden Ellis would get in the way of her foot? And how exactly did all that high-kick dancing start in the first place? At least she blamed it on her new persona—Suzanna—so Society’s most eligible bachelor will never find out the truth.
All Holden wants is the truth. Who was that vixen who seduced him so thoroughly, then disappeared? The only one who seems to have any answers about Suzanna is Miss Sue Green. She’s promised to help him find his mystery woman, but she’s not being all that helpful. And the more time Holden spends with Sue—witty, pretty, and disarmingly honest—the more he realizes he may have found exactly what he’s been looking for all along…