And Then the Wheels Came Off

During the four weeks that We Almost Had It was being serially posted, I started working on a new short story, this one inspired by the A Lot Like Birds song “Atoms in Evening.” It took me a few days to pin down the exact story I wanted to tell but, once I locked onto a narrative arc, I was able to quickly organize an outline and start drafting. And then the story fell apart, mostly because I wasn’t happy with where things were going. In this case, as in many others, the outline may have seemed appealing but the act of turning that outline into actual prose transmuted the story in a strange way and the result was not what I had expected.

So I started over, first with a new outline and then with a new draft. The opening sequence was a struggle but then the story hit an unforeseen groove and started to fall into place. The protagonist suddenly had new dimensions, the ancillary characters, surprising arcs. As my first drafts tend to go, this was much better than it had any right to be.

And then the wheels came off.

My outline called for a nebulous bit of character development that I still haven’t quite figured out and the story, which had been so concrete and tangible, was soon lost in a directionless quagmire with no easy paths out. In what I thought was a clever gambit, I skipped the timeline ahead by two months only to find that the characters had come no closer to extricating themselves from the mess that I had thrown them into.

And this is where I and my story still find ourselves at the moment: struggling to pull a once promising draft back on track. If I’m able to do it, you’ll have a new story to read. And if I can’t, well, you’ll likely see a few more posts like this one.

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