The worst thing I ever wrote

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

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Do you remember the worst thing you have ever written? Will you share?

Way back in 2008, before I had started writing Freefall, I had an idea for a coming-of-age story. I wasn’t really having the vivid dreams at this point, but I’d glimpsed a sort of brutal initiation ceremony in my head. It was set in a medieval society and required of all young men.

Basically, the teenage male inhabitants of an island had to face a tsunami, armed only with a stick to anchor them in the sands as it washed over them. Those who survived were accepted as men and allowed full membership of society, those who ran from the wave or refused to take part became their slaves.

Looking at it from an anthropological aspect, it made perfect sense. The initiation kept the population of males in check and provided a ready supply of workers. It also ensured that only the strongest survived.

My story concerned a man about to take the test, his hopes and fears, as well as the attitudes and reactions of society to the whole thing.

I called it When the Wave Comes, at around 1500 words it was pretty dire. Largely because there was a lot to tell, it was very rushed. But I, in my enthusiasm, didn’t realize that. I actually sent it off to a competition (where it was ignored).

I think of it as the precursor to all my later work, although it didn’t come to me in the way the rest of my stories have.

I always wanted to improve it, largely because as I developed as a copier of the voices in my head I could see where it could be better. It was just that other projects got in the way.

Finally, when I was revising my collection, Flash Fiction, for publication with a new cover, I decided to take the plunge. I spent a few days taking it apart and rewriting it; so that it could be included.

The new version came in at just over 3200 words. Uniquely, in all my work, it’s the only thing that is completely my own. I had no help in writing it, no dreams to guide me.

I think it reads much better now. In fact, when I released it in the collection, it was singled out for a couple of very nice reviews.

All I can say is that it’s a good job they never saw the original version. I have a copy somewhere, but I can’t summon the enthusiasm to look for it. Or the courage to show it to you.


you can read the better version of When the Wave Comes by clicking on the title, it will open the story in pdf format in a new window.

All opinions would be gratefully received.

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6 Responses

  1. Stevie Turner

    Perhaps just like I did add a paragraph from the original and the same paragraph from the revised edition to show how you changed it?

    • Richard Dee

      There was little in the original that bore any resemblance, except maybe the first line or two.

  2. Daryl Devore

    Awesome that the second attempt had improved so much. We all grow from our experiences.

    • Richard Dee

      I’m pleased that I kept faith and didn’t delete the original. There was the germ of a good story hiding in among the weeds.

  3. P.J. MacLayne

    I enjoyed your story, Richard. But I think it’s fine if the original stays buried. Sometimes it’s better that way.

    • Richard Dee

      Thank you, I learned a lot from it, and for that I’m grateful. That’s all I’m saying. 🙂

Comments are closed.