radical rewrite

So I wrote a story some months back, and I knew at the time it was thin. I saw that I was trying to tease more out of my idea than it had in it. The story involved two characters from my One-Match Fire universe (no surprise there), and it had to do with how people inhabit the names they are given.

That’s a lofty idea to work with, but what I didn’t have was a story for it. I had a conversation, set on the porch of a certain Ozark cabin, that brought up various thoughts about the names people had, but the beginning-middle-end construct I wrapped it in was weak and mostly pointless. The story framing really had no connection to the story theme.

And all along I was nagged by the thought that it could be better. I suppose as occupational hazards go, knowing you can do better at something is a good one to have, even if it is frustrating when it’s mysterious. When I was running, I knew I could run better if I trained harder. But with a story, with this story, the solution was not so obvious. The story’s not good. It could be better. But how, exactly, to make it better?

The inklings of how it might be done came to me when I was last at a certain Ozark cabin, and I made feverish notes about this as I recounted in this post. At the time, I knew I had my solution, and it was merely a matter of sitting down with my thin story and muscling it into better shape. Yet the fever has subsided, and the solution is not so clear.

I know what I need to do to rewrite the story. It’s pretty much a complete overhaul, wholly scrapping what I had written. (I don’t even want to read what I’ve already done lest it “taint” my rewrite effort.) But that’s where the hard work comes in. I’m trying something radically different. It is shaping up as a nontraditional narrative, mostly just conversation scraps between the two characters and not even in chronological order. Only the last conversation will bring a unifying point to the plot of the story. I’ve not done anything like this before, so I’m more unsure of my ability than I normally am. But it feels better, it feels to me that I can create the story better. So I persist.


The story I had mentioned before that I wanted to write based on the monomyth of the hero’s journey has been an experience much like what I recount above. It, too, nagged me as one that could be done better. And I’ve been working on it in fits and starts, trying to make it become something a whole lot more than what it began as. It retains a more or less conventional narrative approach, but what I do within that framework is getting refined. I don’t know when I’ll consider it finished (nor the one above), but at least I know it’s not there yet.

Explore posts in the same categories: Fathers and Sons

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