Friday, March 20, 2015

Evolution of a Story

A friend sent me what he said was an old spiritual teaching story. 

The premise fascinated me, but the tale had no plot.  In the beginning, the protag had a problem. This was a worthy problem – definitely worth writing about. The protag went to a spiritual teacher who gave him an answer. The answer caused another problem. Again, the protag went to the teacher, who gave him another answer. End of story.

So, of course, I rewrote the story. In my version, the protag makes mistakes, matures and solves her own problem – in fact, she solves two problems at once.

I felt that thrill of discovery and accomplishment when I wrote it. Jubilantly, I took it to my local writers group.

Of course, they trashed it.  But in a nice way.  They told me where it stuck in their craws.

I rewrote it – now sure that I had something commercial in my hopper.  I sent it to agents. I sent it to the few publishers who look at over-the-transom manuscripts.  Most ignored me.  The ones who responded gave me that “not suitable for our list at this time” letter, which means nothing. I could get that response if I sent a blank piece of paper. 

I’m a professional. I don’t think I’ve lost my talent. In fact, I feel like my story-telling ability has improved over time.  This story is a keeper.

When I do find an editor, I may have to do more rewriting. But the core of the story will remain intact.  I've been a writer long enough to know that the story in my head may need to take a different shape before it effectively communicates with other people's heads.

Off it goes in another envelope to another possible buyer.

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