What’s on Your Shelf?

We all have projects that are sitting on a shelf someplace. Perhaps not a literal shelf. They might be tucked into a corner of a hard drive or a flash drive. Dropbox or Google Drive may be where these stories that died a slow death reside, gathering digital dust.

They could be stories we started but never finished. Maybe the characters didn’t grab us or seemed flat and one-dimensional. Maybe the plot didn’t work. Too many holes or too contrived.

And there are projects we finished but were dissatisfied with the result. Or an agent or editor rejected it. Maybe, when we started the second draft, it didn’t spark us as it had at first. We discovered that what seemed like a great idea, wasn’t so great when we finished it.

Then something happens and we go back to those abandoned projects. The trigger for me came after completing a four-book fantasy series. Which has now been rejected twice.

I needed a break. I wasn’t sure what to write, but I knew I needed to step away from fantasy and science fiction. My writing group reminded of my historical novels. So I revisited them.

My Riverbend novels are a trilogy. I thought I was done. The storyline was complete. Or so I thought. The heroine in the series reminds me every few months that I left her pregnant at the end of book three and she would like to get that resolved.

I have another story about a female attorney named Emily in the 1880s in Kansas. My agent at the time and I planned for it to be a three book series. But my agent decided to quit agenting. I finished the first book but couldn’t sell it.

Emily captured my attention once again along with the central idea of the book. Emily comes to the rescue of an abused woman.

I initially shelved this project because of the pull of the fantasy genre. I wanted to try something new.

But Emily is one of those characters who won’t let me go. She would visit at night when I was falling asleep and whisper in my ear, dropping hints for the plot twists and new characters.

I chose Emily over the Riverbend project because it touched me more. The story of an abused woman seemed both timely and challenging to write. Right now, I have three pages of free writing notes and I’ve laid out the first couple of chapters. I’m excited to see where it goes from here.

Have you every revived a shelved project? What triggered your renewed interest in it?

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