Sunday, November 8, 2015


And I'm not talking about well-formed sentences, grammer, speling. What I want to discuss is composing a story - how the draft scenes are rearranged to make the finished piece as powerful as it can be.

Certainly the first step in writing is establishing a theory of the story you wish to tell - the message, theme, or whatever. It is what the story will be about. Will it be a metaphor or an analogy?  Is its intent to amuse, befuddle, or inform?  Those might not be uppermost when trying to spell out the tale, but even if you aren't conscious of it, it will be sitting at the wheelhouse as the writing progresses to craft, often wth difficulty, plot, characters, and settings.

Eventually you will have a completed first draft on your hands - messy, rife with errors, poorly written in part, and probably confusing as characters' names change, settings become chaotic, and parts wander off into territory you hadn't intended, but were dictated by events or are the product of your inattention to the theme.

The second draft (at least for me) is where the composing the story comes in to play. Suppose your draft is chronologically sequential with each scene following a preceding one.  Where is the most powerful scene?  I doubt it will be at the beginning - that's where the sequential origin would logically be.  Should that be at the end?  What is the second most powerful scene - maybe you could begin there and move that origin scene(s) to be used to better effect as a flashback later in the story? Is the high point of the story buried at mid point?  Maybe that would work better as the epiphany, which means other parts can become flashbacks or forewarnings, it's up to you.

Those are just examples of what I go through on every damn draft, moving the virtual index cards around until the story has the shape and 'feel' that looks right. Sure, it's subjective, but then, isn't the entire story a matter of personal choice.


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