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Last Week’s WW: Dealing With Rejection and Looking for ARC Readers

Recently, I was writing a short story, and when I finished the first draft, I realized that I was telling the wrong story.

A story doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  It is merely a snapshot of a situation in a bigger universe.

Whenever I write a story, I try to know everything that there is to know.  I’ll know if my protagonist’s father left her as a child, or under what circumstances she’d stab someone.  I know if they’ve ever been married, when they immigrated, or if there was anything they’d die for.  In my universe, I’ve got a good idea of the government, I could construct a history if asked, I know what their trees look like…

Whether or not any of that makes it into a story, I know it.  Even if I don’t sit down and specifically map out every second of that time line, I still know it as sure as I know my own history.  It exists, well rounded, and complete.

There are a lot of things that happen in a universe.  And it’s your job to know about them.  The more you know, the richer the story.

Of course this is a good thing.  But it can also be a tricky one.

I was pretty sure of my current story.  It had themes, and, while I admit that it needed to be expanded on, it wasn’t a bad story.

I had my alpha reader take a look at my recent story, and he said, “this is really good.  These things you bring up are intriguing.  But, what’s all this stuff happening off camera?  I want to see that.  You’re referencing things that make for a more interesting story.”

I thought about it, and he was right.  I was telling the wrong story.  How could I elude to the destruction of our digital infrastructure and not show it?  How can I mention that this escaped AI has a problem, but not show him having that problem?  The other story is good.  The other story is intriguing.  But it isn’t the right story to be told.  Maybe, at some point, I flesh it out and have a companion story.  But, for now, I’m going to explore that other story line.

This is a worry that I’ve had about all of my projects.  That fear of execution.  What scenes do you show?  What story do you tell?  In this case, it was almost easy, there was something far more interesting going on off camera.  That needed to be explored.  But sometimes, its hard to tell.

So, ask yourself, are you telling the important things?  Are you following the important people?  Is there anything being “mentioned” that happened off camera that would be more interesting to show?  If so, show it!