Well, “bad” may be a bit harsh. And maybe what I want to talk about today isn’t so much when a formerly good story becomes a mutant monster of epic proportions. What I want to talk about is something I have a bit more experience with — when a good story idea starts bad.
You see, of the writing projects I’ve spent the most time on in my life, the majority found their origins sometime during my teenage years. In the case of Down a Lost Road, I was 12 years old when I got the idea, based off a creepy dream I had. The Grey Tide? My earliest draft dates from when I was 10. Oathbreaker began when I was about 14.
Now, why do I lump all these three novels into this rather unflattering category of bad-starts? Well, the reason is obvious.
Maybe the story had good elements. Maybe it was the characters. Maybe the core of the plot. Maybe the world I imagined for them. In any case, they all had some aspect that intrigued, captivated, or mystified me. But none of those things are enough for me, looking back on those earliest drafts, to call them “good.” They were childish. Immature. Cliched. Predictable. They sounded like they had been written by a young person with no real experience of the world — which is precisely true.
Funny how you get a perspective on things as you get older.