3 Reasons Why You Should Cannibalize Your Stories


3 Reasons Why You Should Cannibalize Your Stories R.S. Mollison-Read

The idea of using one story to ‘feed’ another may seem strange, but it can actually improve your writing so much! Here are three reasons why you should cannibalize your stories:

#1. Because something ‘isn’t quite right’: 
Sometimes what initially seems like a great idea, falters as you explore it, and flesh it out. A great idea can still be a great idea; sometimes it’s just out of the right context. Don’t write it off (pun fully intended;) until you’ve tried the idea that doesn’t quite fit, in another story. I found this as I was writing Magician’s Mayhem; I had reached a place where my original idea just did not fit. I toyed with the idea of taking an idea from another story I was working on the time, but I was very reticent to do so. Finally, after much hemming and hawing (and some grumping and harumphing), I did it, telling myself I could always ‘undo’ it. I was so glad I did though, because using a section from another story completely fixed the section I was finding troublesome!

#2. Because it can inspire new ideas:
In much the same way that BLUE + YELLOW = GREEN, sometimes adding material from one story to another can spark new ideas, simply because it is in a new context. Seeing your original idea outside of its original setting can add perspective and help spark new ideas, and creative inspiration!

#3. Because you can always come up with other ideas: 
I am totally guilty of hoarding ideas. I used to do it with alarming frequency, but it’s something I’m working on. Somewhere along the way, I decided that I have a limited number of good ideas, and I have to hoard the good ones, and use them for something particularly brilliant, otherwise they’ll be wasted. That is nonsense.It took a while to get over this idea, and to start relinquishing those good ideas. Sure enough, I have always been able to come up with something unique and creative whenever I need a new idea!


Do you ever cannibalize your stories? Do you find this to be a useful technique?


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3 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why You Should Cannibalize Your Stories

  1. […] Premise: I write a premise document for every single story concept that I have. Most of my story concepts don’t even have an outline yet, but they do have a premise. My premise document contains every single thought or idea I’ve had pertaining to that particular story, character names, snippets of dialogue, ideas for exploration, and most importantly, my basic idea for what the story is going to be about. I use the premise to refer back to, and even if I change an idea, I keep the original concept in the document. I do this for two reasons. The first, is to see how far I’ve come from the original concept – I like to review my thought process as a story progresses. The second reason is that often, if an idea diverges considerably from my first thought, I can still sometimes use that first thought as an idea in another story. […]

  2. […] talked about cannibalizing story ideas when necessary here. But in order to have stories to pull ideas from, I first have to keep those ideas that […]

  3. […] conceived of on that sunny day in Paris, there are many others which have occurred since, including cannibalizing a sizable portion of another fantasy series I was working on at the time, and serving it up to the […]

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