So. A further update on my own fiction. As I wrote last month, I wasn’t happy with the way that my first “reeds” story had turned out: lots of atmosphere at the expense of, well, anything else really. A sign that I’m likely to be happy with something – that it might even be good – is that it doesn’t read like I wrote it. That’s usually my aim. But this one had “me” all over it. So I took a step back – not something I’m always good at – for a strategic view, and tried to “find the story” that was buried in all the words.
Severe pruning then followed. I cut most of the first page¹ and went through the rest, savaging with a pen my stylistic tics (too many commas, sentences that go on too long, and an inability to just get to the bloody point).
So, having torn this story to pieces, what next? In the words of the great Spanish anarchist Buenaventura Durutti, “We are not in the least afraid of ruins…for, you must not forget, we can also build.”
Well, I think I’ve found a way in to the character, who previously was simply a cut-out to whom the events (such as they were) happened. Now he has a past, and a reason for being where the story takes place. What I’m looking for – and usually, once I’ve found this, everything flows from it – is the key in which the story should be written. Sometimes this means envisioning the opening scene but often it’s just getting a first sentence that feels right. It sets the tone and defines the narrative voice.
¹ Which I’ve posted here because I think it stands as a separate work, which should have been an early warning, really.