Monday, March 18, 2013

Plot liposuction

Once upon a time I had a weird, vivid dream. When I woke I said "This is a great story idea" and proceeded to write down the idea. The writing went well and before I knew it I had an outline for a novel and a couple partial scenes. Then an evil sorceress cursed me with so many writing projects that I had no time to see this project come to fruition. The outline then spent many years languishing in the pit of postponed ideas.

All right. I wish I could blame my lack of time on an evil sorceress -- actually, there are a lot of things I'd like to lay on her doorstep -- however, seeing as I have no conclusive proof nor an address where I can lay said proof and blame, I have to take it on this one.

There is one thing that was omitted from the above fairy tale. The first half of the story was a trope-laden affair with only a couple of interesting things happening before the stellar ending. At the time I had no idea how to fix it so I allowed the "no-time curse"to take effect. Well, I can proudly say that this particular tale's curse was broken last week.

I needed a short story idea that I could whip out before a contest deadline. As I went over my list of sidelined projects (it's a long list) it occurred to me that if I simply wrote the cool stuff at the end of this story, I'd have a pretty good piece. It wasn't until I was halfway through the first draft that I realized the novel version of the story didn't need to be fixed, it just needed surgery. By cutting away the excess weight it became a much stronger story. As for those two interesting things that were supposed to happen? Apparently they weren't as cool as I originally thought because they got cut and the story won't suffer from the loss.

Why did I have so many lame ideas in one outline? It wasn't story idea overloaditis, I can tell you that much. What I think happened was that because this was one of my early ideas, I made the new writer mistake of assuming that every idea I had was novel worthy. I had yet to learn that some ideas are much better when allowed to be short and simple. In some ways it was a blessing to be time cursed. If I had written it right away, it would have been an atrocious trunk novel. Since I waited until I had enough skill to suck away the fat without killing it, it's become a story that I can be proud to put my name on.

Note: Don't forget that this Saturday I'll have a guest post on The Fictorian Era.

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