I wrote a short story, a new Aculeo & Amunet adventure, over the weekend.
It was fast and rough – I outlined it on a copybook while my brother drove me 80 kms to Turin on Saturday morning, I jotted down additional notes on the way back, checked my facts before dinner, and then wrote the first third after dinner on saturday night.
Yesterday I went and hammered out the rest.
8000 words story, nice and smooth.
Fact is, my story sagged in the middle.
I had a strong start, a big wham-bang! ending, but the middle was highly unsatisfactory.
Now, a story is somewhat like a bridge, connecting the beginning to the end, carrying the characters (and the reader) from A to B.
So, when the bridge has to arch over a wide stretch of nothing, it could be useful to place a pillar, holding it up in the middle.
In other words, slip in a complication.
Ray Chandler suggested having a guy with a gun walk in, when the story lost direction.
In the case of Aculeo & Amunet, a sharp implement has to do, guns being rather unlikely in the third century (this is not that kind of fantasy).
So I did what I usually do.
I started browsing randomly through the web.
I changed my facebook profile picture.
I played a few games of solitaire.
Then I chanced on this photograph, of actress Gloria Swanson.
And this is exactly what my story needed.
A lot of pieces clicked in place.
So, the good news is, my story no longer sags in the middle.
The bad news is, it no longer bridges the wide deep nothing from A to B, but it stretches further, somewhere in the vicinities of D.
I’ll have to write some more, today and probably tomorrow*.
And still I need a title.
* Or, tomorrow and the following day, as I pushed the wrong button, and published this post two hours earlier than planned.
- Jilly: My 2013 – The Saggy Middle Act (eightladieswriting.com)