I don’t know where I first heard this bit of advice, or when, but I know that I was once told that good writers never throw away ideas when they don’t work, they tuck them away to be cannibalized later for another project.
Action Figures is proving living proof of that theory, in many ways.
Most of the main characters are transplants from other projects, from a comic book concept I first came up with in high school to a booze-inspired joke between myself and my friend Tricia (graphic artist extraordinaire, who will be designing the cover of this novel if I have any say over it). Nothing ever really came of these past ideas, but over the years the characters got absorbed into a misfit-superhero concept that was tweaked and adjusted and eventually evolved into Action Figures.
Then there is the YA novel effort, which itself is a product of recycling ideas that did not pan out in their original format. My first attempt, which I’ll call Draft One, suffered from an ending that did not quite make sense. That was abandoned entirely and got a new climax (Draft Two).
Draft Two proved too short, so to add length, Draft Three integrated story concepts I’d intended for the second book.
After finishing Draft Three, as mentioned in my previous post, I became increasingly dissatisfied with how the story progressed. It felt too disjointed and unrelated to the first half of the story, so I sucked it up and began to re-write the second half.
But not entirely; there were many parts I still liked a lot, mostly character-based segments, and as I worked on Draft Four I transplanted, sometimes verbatim, entire chapters from Draft Three. I also salvaged my Draft One ending and worked it in as a new transition scene — greatly chopped down, but the base elements are still there.
I have most of the new climax worked out in my head. I’m hoping to polish it off this week, and after that, I start thinking of ways to take all the material I removed from Draft Three and put it to work in Book Two – Draft One.