Don't throw away your old outlines and stories.

I started writing stories when I was eleven years old. I completed around twelve fantasy stories by the time I graduated from High School. During that time, I was also piling dozens of incomplete stories, manga adaptations, sketches, and blurbs.

Every now and then, I want to take an old story, strip my poorly structured characters, flimsy scenes, cheesy dialogue and give them a makeover.

When I have doubts about doing it, it’s because of these three questions.

  • What if I trunked my story because it’s not good?
  • I already have new ideas to write about.
  • Maybe they deserved to collect dust — It’s embarrassing to read!

I believe these aren’t wrong questions to ask, but I also think it’s a scapegoat not to use what could be rich content. Somewhere under the run-on sentences, and vomit of grammar mistakes, there could be a gold nugget—waiting to be polished.

The Black Wing series has colossal worlds where the past, present, and future intertwine with the series.

So what do I do when I want to create another book in the same world?

What better opportunity than dusting my bags (I don’t have a trunk) and revive one of my middle school/ high school stories?

My Blue Book. The papers feel soft, almost translucent in blue ink.

Blue Notebook has seen better days…

I will spare you the embarrassing parts of Blue Book and generalize what the story entails.

A materialistic, self-absorbed woman has the worst luck when she’s no longer on Eart. One mistake leaves her wedded off to an insufferable man. She must now live among a prominent village with iron-fist rules. This village is protected by a shy and very private dragon who is unable to leave his post by the coast. The woman must decide if she wants to adapt to her new world or become what the village people fear.

This story, aka Blue Notebook has been stored in my trunk (Microsoft bag) for 16 years!

Shout out to Microsoft. Don’t know how I got your bag…but I did.

But here is a warning

Fantasy writers, don’t blindly pick a story from your trunk, choose one that will fit with the world can add to your current series. Blue Notebook works well because the world I created has the same cultural, magic system, and medieval themes in The Black Wing series.

The setting in Blue Book is futuristic but involves swords and dragons. (I don’t know why I like combining sci-fi with medieval themes. But it showed 16 years ago and now)

If you can’t transplant your story into a current series, don’t sweat it.

Throw the setting/world away, but keep your characters, tweak them, give them a different hair color! Sometimes we give up on a story because the world we put our lively characters was not good enough. Don’t let your character’s pay for it.

This also works vice-versa. If your characters were not sticking to the plot or universe, you created — why throw both of them away?

If you’re going to trunk away your stories, don’t feel as though you have failed them.

One day, Blue Book will make a return.

You never know when yours might have a comeback.

Writing quality not quantity #1

A Stump on your Writing Road

Have you ever written like there was no stopping you until out of nowhere you’re writing are just empty words, that make no sense?

This is not an issue on grammar or punctuation, I’m assuming you have taken care of that, what I’m talking about is your story. There are times where you will have to erase an entire chapter and start over or risk approving a chapter with flaws—your chapters shouldn’t leave you feeling insecure, so here is an example of what too look for.

You’re editing is running smooth:

As I’m working through the final edits of Lola: Aftermath of The Birth, my biggest stump was the climax of the novel—you know, the best part you can write! I spent two days on one single chapter erasing, shifting sentences around, adding new scenes, and dialogue, but nothing I did in the past that resolved current stump helped! I was frustrated, and started averting my eyes from the chapter to look at my phone, and when I came back to write, I dreaded every minute reading on repeat.


A chapter that runs smoothly will feel like the current of the wind, and although you are the one who wrote it, you will find yourself being drifted alongside the story. You can test this by not reading your book for a day and going back to see if you get the same effect. Granted, you will probably edit a word or two along the way, but that’s what you’re supposed to do.

Show a chapter to a reader:

I recommend taking a chapter or chunk to a reader you trust. If they say “you forgot a comma,” thank your lucky star because you can fix that, but if they say “I’m sorry—what does the clerk have anything to do with what’s going on with MC?” then you better start rolling your sleeves.


That is the sinking hole I was stuck in, I gave my chapter to my husband and warned him, “You’re not going to like this, but trust me it was far worse than it was.” He reads it while I wait for him to be done and you can hear my words virtually stab him with reactions that made him say “What!?” “That doesn’t make any sense!” I almost curled into a ball when he finished the chapter, but that’s how I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone, that chapter needs a lot of work.

What happens if you don’t fix it now:

Plot holes! If you think your readers are not going to catch on, then you are clearly underestimating them. I am always going back to my manuscripts and digging through my notebooks to make sure all of my future volumes will remain consistent. To resolve it—you have put in the work, the last thing you want to do is create a last-minute phony excuse to explain why your protagonist or antagonist did the thing they did, because again—your reader will know.  

How I fixed my stump, and how you can fix yours:

I read and edited the same eleven pages with 3,975 words with a sick stomach (figuratively speaking), and it turns out what caused my nausea was the end of the chapter. The beginning was rich and had me at my seat, but then the excitement started to dwindle in the middle, where the end did not deliver what the highest point a novel should give. In fairness, I thought my problem was the first few paragraphs but that was because I could not recognize which was the weaker scene, so to guide you:  

  • Separate your chapter in half.
  • If the climax is more than a chapter long, outline each scene.
  • Is your character suddenly making choices than he/she would not normally do? Add validity to that reason so it will make sense.
  • Outlandish actions can lead to cheesy or predictable scenes, so don’t depend on the element of surprise.
  • How do you get rid of stains? You rinse and repeat, keep editing, keep asking for feedback, and don’t give up.

The next change in your book can be a painting, meal or concert away!

I know, you want to be cooped up to write and not be told to get out, but give me two minutes, I also love shutting my study room and play some low chill vibes while I write. But if we are writing about characters who spend most of their time fighting villains, running through rough terrains, and interacting with trusted companions–shouldn’t we try to get out of rabbit hole every now and then?

I went to The Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco this week. I was there for a variety of reasons actually!

  1. Legion of Honor Museum
  2. Eat ramen in Japan Town.
  3. See Bloc Party at The Masonic!

If you write fantasy–you’re probably bubbling with various ideas for your work. Maybe you’re done and need to go through the editorial process. Sometimes you’re one push away from self-publishing or sending your manuscript to a traditional company. Amidst all of this, there can be several stories you have been itching to write, but there aren’t enough elements to give your idea gravity.

Kele Okereke from Bloc Party playing the Silent Alarm album at the San Francisco Masonic

For example, my book series The Black Wing will be stretching out for various volumes, the universe I built is enormous, so I am compelled to write outside of the series because I can’t cover everything in one volume—not when Merla and Serenata are the main centerpieces of the series! My new project has an active first two chapters. You can google anything these days,

but I still believe in experiencing for inspiration—not just looking for inspiration!  

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin

Remain in constant meta-cognition when you’re out, now is the time to start asking yourself ‘What do I see, hear, smell, and touch, and how can I create this into a scene or event in my story? Yes only you can give your character life, but it doesn’t hurt to try a new approach!

So what did my experiencing for inspiration did for me?

We parked a mile from SF Masonic and excitedly crossed the streets, waited for the lights, and groaned up and down the hill. I loved every minute of it, despite my complaining for wearing flats instead of comfortable tennis shoes (I never learn my lesson). As a result, I changed an important plot in The Black Wing because of it, and the more I looked around the less doubts I had! But you will have to find out what that change is, you will have to wait until much later in the series!