Always a little unnerving when you’re really focused on something and a stranger steps into your personal space…Deep breaths, Pakku! You can handle this.
I did two back-to-back presentations for a local elementary school last week, which was a lot of fun. I particularly enjoy answering questions of kids, because often they ask questions from unusual perspectives. I think one of the most challenging questions was “What’s the part you like the least about writing?”
I had to think about it for a moment, but eventually I concluded that it was getting rid of good, but not great, material. Often stories know what they’re about better than I do, and I have to get into the meat of writing it before it occurs to me that the theme I thought I had was not in fact the theme that the story was enforcing. Whenever that happens, it often means scrapping all that I’d written and re-writing the same story with a different emphasis.
This happened to me recently with the Trickster Tale I’m working on for Kickstarter Backers. It started out as a story about defying fate, and I had several scenes completed when I realized that the story was actually about the difference between surviving and thriving. Had to scrap most of the scenes and characters. The current result is better, and my outline of events much clearer, but it’s hard to look at something I invested many hours into and know that it was merely the first idea.
Tempting to hold onto the pieces anyway, to shove them in and try to make them work in the new story structure. To do so is to create haunted fiction. Stories that can’t move on with their own lives, because the ghosts of plot-lines past keep intruding. Better to kill them quickly, gently, and lay them to rest in the graveyard of first ideas.
Have you ever got stuck on a first idea for something? Not just for writing, but for how to solve a problem, or the best way to do something? What helped you let go?