There’s a story that I’ve been trying to write for a very, very long time. The first time I tried to tell it, I got about 40,000 words in before I came to the hard, painful realization that it wasn’t working. I looked it over, and gutted huge portions, and rebooted it from the beginning. But by this point, I’d lost quite a bit of time. Work and life kept getting in the way (working two fairly physically demanding jobs saps your energy a bit). If I’d had a better idea of what I was doing, I might have powered through. As it was, the story was still structurally flawed in ways I didn’t know how to fix. It hurt.
And so I let it go.
Fast-forward to Hapax-the-Podcast. This failed story, the story that had preyed on my mind ever since, kept rearing its head throughout the recording and editing process. Eventually, I remarked to one of my cast, “I really need to write this, don’t I?”
“Yes,” she answered. “Yes, I think you do.”
I started fiddling with it again. I started getting excited. I took it to New Zealand, and thought about it some more, and outlined the first five chapters or so in detail.
I still couldn’t write it.
Then, a few days ago, I realized something.
I’ve been trying to start the story in the wrong place.
If I move the opening, two or three major plotting/pacing issues vanish. The tone changes. The characters’ wants and needs shine through far more clearly.
Such a simple change, but it changes everything.
I’m still cautious. I’m still nervous about trying again. But, hopefully the fact that the story won’t let me go says something.
I also found some notes from Hapax’s early days, and let me tell you, I was all over the map with that one. I had forgotten how many wrong paths I considered and discarded. That gives me hope too.