What Happened Next

To Quail Or Not To Quail?

Last week I told you about how Jim told recounted a dream he’d had, and how what he told me generated an idea for a short story.  Here’s what happened next.

After Jim told me about his dream, I scribbled a few pages.  Then, when I had spare time, I did research to round out my idea.   As soon as I could, I started writing, beginning with typing up what I’d written longhand.  It looked good.  It even looked great, but it also was getting long and the dramatic climax that had been my initial inspiration was nowhere in sight.

When I had written over 4,000 words (that’s sixteen pages, give or take) and the story was still a long way from completed, I had a sudden, horrible realization.  What I was setting up would only work if I turned my initial concept into a novel.  I’d thought my research would tighten down my options.  Instead, it had given me too many cool ideas.

As you know, I have nothing against writing novels.  However, I really didn’t think that the initial vivid image I’d garnered from Jim’s dream would be served by being an element in a novel.  Instead, it would be buried under a lot of other material.  It might even be squashed flat.

Reluctantly, I realized that if I were to serve my initial inspiration, I wouldn’t just need to re-write and tighten.  I would need to start over entirely.

Lots of writers quail at the idea of starting over.  They don’t want to “waste” what they’ve already written.  I’m not immune to that fear but, as I paced around my yard, I realized that the creative work I’d done to that point wasn’t wasted.  Some of the cool stuff I’d found in my research would certainly be useful later.  The fictional New Mexico mining town in which I was going to set the story was considerably more well defined.

So, on Friday, I put aside all the other jobs on my list and began all over again.  I wrote through Friday, although I did need to take a break to attend a meeting.  By close of day, I had replaced my initial 4,000 words, and was on my way toward the final scenes.

On Saturday, I’d hoped to go to a coin show with Jim and our friend, Michael Wester, but I cancelled so I could keep writing.  When Jim and Michael came back from the show, I stopped to have a sandwich with them, then I returned to writing.  By late afternoon, I had a rough draft with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

I also had assurance as to whether or not I’d written a better story, but at least I hadn’t let my initial inspiration become buried under too many words and too complex a plot.   I printed what I’d written, set it aside to mellow, and gave myself Sunday off.  Monday would be soon enough to give the story another look.

As of this writing, I’m still in the polishing and refining stage.  I’m only sure of one thing.  I’m glad I didn’t quail at the challenge of starting over again.  Sometimes, that’s the only thing to do if you want to write the best story possible.

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3 Responses to “What Happened Next”

  1. futurespastsite Says:

    Looking forward to reading that one (as always).

  2. Debby Barker Says:

    Just to let you know that I always enjoy your ‘blog?” Is that the right word?

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