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.
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.