Monday, October 19, 2015

False starts

So many of my stories have false starts, brief attempts at beginnings. I think I know the way in to the story, and then I find out I'm wrong.

I tried to write Try Not to Breathe for years before I succeeded. I kept abandoning it and returning to it in between other projects. When I finally got the right characters and setting, I wrote in a subplot about neighbors that I eventually cut. I had gobs of plot that ended up as just brief hints of backstory.

When I think back on writing that book, I think of the time I got it right, and I tend to think of it as a fairly smooth drafting process. But the files of my drafts tell a different story. "Oh, yeah," I say to myself, remembering. "That's right, I had all these scenes in the center of town, the ones I cut."

Most of my other books are like that, too. They started at the wrong place or with the wrong character or at the wrong time. I hit a wall and went back and started over.

It's easy to forget the trickiness of this stage: circling a story, looking for the way in.

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