What does a writer do when she’s stuck on a great story she’s rewriting, and can see no earthly way to get unstuck? When she has this idea that she loves, and that she’d love every bit as much if it were penned by another — perhaps, better — writer? But that needs a ton more work, major surgery even, to make it shine?
Happens all the time, you say. And even to those “better” writers. They feel an in-progress story or book is not quite right. Worse, the writer’s savvy editor or writing critique group confirms the suspicion, offering small tips or corrections here, comments about bigger changes, there. But no clear “aha” suggestions on how to re-boot or re-organize the piece so it works!
This is what’s happening with “Over the Edge,” my new Pepper Kane mystery story/novella. In this story, Pepper tries to stop someone with a murderous urge from pushing another someone over the edge of Southern Oregon’s Table Rock. And it’s driving me bonkers.
My mind fiddles around with it 24/7. Sometimes actively, sometimes in the background when I am doing something else. This has gone on for more than a month.
So I go out to breakfast with my long-suffering hubs. Ride my horse. Read other writers. Kvetch to friends. Lose myself in TV news. Listen to rain pelting our home’s old bubble skylights. Especially listen to rain on the old bubble skylights. So soothing, so hypnotic. Poppity, pop, pop, pop!
And I stay stuck.
I know the answer is inside that story, or my battle weary brain, somewhere. So here I go to dig again, tear apart, restructure, stitch back up, and dig, tear, restructure and suture some more.
Which version will live? Which will stand tall, proud, engaging, logical and READABLE? Which will not resemble Dr. Frankenstein’s monster when it is finally unleashed on an unsuspecting – and, hopefully welcoming — world?