If I Set Them Free, Does That Mean I Rewrite Them?

How wise is it to rewrite old work?

In my previous post, I set free a half-dozen or so psychologically abused, frustratingly passive women I had authored. Just as I tapped out the final words, the question of should-I-rewrite-them arrived unbidden.

All of us have moments in our real lives–perhaps longer time periods–we would like to have another crack at, but as any writer of fiction knows (particularly writers of speculative fiction), to change the past is to invite unintended plot consequences. Either hilarity or mayhem will ensue, but we might not be laughing. We’ve thought out the ‘what if’ and know we’re probably better off with our lives as they are and have been, warts and all. We believe in the butterfly effect, and know there are a hoard of those bad butterflies waiting close by for us to do something stupid like invent time travel. Then they’ll swoop in and show us how incapable we are of directing events. (Yeah, I wrote one of those stories, once.)

Needs warning label!

Changing a story I’ve already written (and published) is less dire than changing my life, but still not recommended. As I type this, I’m tempted to try it, nonetheless.

Character is at the center of fiction of any genre. My sad housewives’ characters drive their tales; if changed, the entire story changes. This could be cool, or would be cool if the plot complications weren’t ninety percent the result of my protagonists’ own stupid character defects. And maybe, maybe, that’s what bugs me about these stories. If those character flaws aren’t entertaining to me…if I neither sympathize with them nor find them amusing any longer, the tale begins to bore me, just like a party I’ve stayed too long at.

So that’s it. I typed a little longer, and came up with my answer. No. Anything I reprint will appear as it did originally. Other than a comma here or there, or some formatting problem, I won’t touch it. If I can’t present it with enthusiasm, I won’t present it at all. Period. End of subject.


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