Thursday, July 30, 2009

Putting It Out Of My Misery

July 31 is deadline day for four projects I've had my eye on, and I've been scribbling away for some time now to get as many done as possible.

A couple of weeks ago it became obvious that I'd not have time to write stories for all four. Two of them had ideas ready to go, so those were the two I decided to stick with, ditching the others. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices, right?

Of the two remaining, one was partially formed, the other pretty much written in my head - that's the one I started with, reasoning that I'd be done with it sooner and then able to concentrate on the other.

Except that the longer I worked on the story, the worse it got. The plot seemed to hold water, but after finishing a 7000 word first draft it was just ... wrong.

So I pulled it apart, put it back together and started writing again. And if anything it ended up even worse.

I put it aside and puttered around with the second story for a day or two, but my mind was stuck in a rut. Why didn't Story One work? Maybe if I did this to it ...

More tinkering under the hood, another draft and the story had gone from a reasonably straightforward yarn with a risque comedy bent to a deadly serious tale of infidelity, murder and vengeance, stuffed to the brim with sub-plots and reverses.

And in its own way it made sense. It's just that it wasn't the story I wanted to write, and I'm pretty damn sure it's not the story the editors are looking for either. So with one day to go and two stories to write I have 8000 unuseable words of one and 2500 incomplete words of the other.

Which is how I've come to this moment of clarity.

Maybe the story can't be fixed. Maybe the problem is so ingrained and deeply rooted that juggling characters and tweaking the plot is just polishing a turd?

So I'm taking it out behind the shed and shooting it. If I know it's dead I might be able to concentrate on Story Two, which appears to have none of the problems plus the added bonus of having a tentative approval based on the synopsis I ran past the editor.

Now all I have to do is get an extension on that deadline ...


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