Personal Writing Challenges (part 2)

One of the major things I struggle with is how a story unfolds in my mind. It is easy to say “start and the beginning, write until you get to the end, then stop.” It is not easy for me to do. My brain really jumps around, and as a result what I write tends to be very disjointed. Nearly every story I have started has at least one flashback. The disjointedness is also the reason I tend to switch tense as a paragraph progresses. Add to that the style of writing that my day job has ingrained into me, passive voice and redundancy, and what I end up with is a story that needs major editing. (BTW, that verbose, repetitive, explain things more than once style of communication…this sentence!…actually has a name. Pleonastic.) I have been working worked on my passive voice habit and my pleonastic tendencies. It was time to work on my disjointed plot delivery.

Back when I lived in the Chicago area, I went to a free writing workshop at a local bookstore. One of the exercises the instructor had us do was to take a list of seemingly unrelated words and phrases and incorporate them into a seamless draft story. The exercise was primarily designed to help break writers block, but it has the secondary effect of learning how to progress smoothly from one plot element to the next.

Yesterday I grabbed a list of twelve words and phrases that I happened to have by my desk, and within twenty minutes or so, I had a decent draft story. I spent the next five hours (off and on) trying to smooth it out as much as possible. There are two short flashbacks, and I am wondering if I should reorder the story and place the flashbacks into chronological order. I am actually leaning towards maybe combining them and leaving in a single flashback. At some point I should work on not creating any flashbacks at all. I suspect I am using them as a crutch to fill the gaps in the disjointed flow of my stories.

I am fairly happy with the result of this writing challenge. I am going to let it sit for a bit and then hit it fresh. Who knows, I may just send this writing challenge off to a publisher as well.

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One Response

  1. Having smoothed out the flow of this story even more, and having gotten positive responses from a few readers, I sent this story off to Every Day Fiction. It is a big departure from my other story published there. This one is a few words shy of 1000, and it is more literary than any of the other genre categories they list.
    Even though this started out as a writing exercise, I am hopeful that EDF will like it.

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