Struggling with the Story

Writing a story can be an incredibly frustrating yet enlightening experience sometimes. From the first glimmer of an idea to the final draft, it’s an up and down roller coaster.

Now don’t get me wrong, some stories just jump into your head complete–except for a few editing issues.  Those are the easy ones.  For me they are usually flash, vignettes, or a character piece. Sometimes they are fine the way they are, but usually they need an editorial pass or expansion later.

Mostly the stories I write have several phases.

The first phase is the idea.

The next phase is a rest phase.

Then comes a draft or at least a partial draft.

And this is where things start to get interesting.

For some stories, my first draft is all I need.  A few thousand words later, a few editing passes, and the suggestions of my Beta readers and things are ready to go.

Other stories, like the one I’m working on now, aren’t satisfied with only a few thousand words. You see, as I write, sometimes doors open. I may be influenced by something I read in another story, or a movie or more importantly the local news.

This is happening to the story I’m working on right now. I thought that the story was pretty straightforward at first. But as I worked on the first draft, things shifted. I realized the story had a lot more to say than something simple. There’s a lot of underlying social commentary in this piece that I’m struggling with. And yes I’m struggling with the story.

I’m struggling because until lately I’ve played things safe (sort of) with my writing. I’ve not really poked at social issues much although I know they are there.  For me it’s like knowing there’s a dragon just outside the door, and being very careful when you go outside. You can skirt around it but it takes more effort.

But skirting around the issues isn’t good story telling. Good stories face those dragons head on or sometimes sideways.  Good stories make you think.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking with this story.  I’m not just struggling with what the story touches on, but with myself.  I hope that when I’ve gotten this story written, edited and polished, you’ll be able to read it too. And maybe you’ll have to struggle with some ideas yourself.



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