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Point of View: Creative Destruction

Creative Destruction Scott

A week ago yesterday, I sent off my novel–well, one of them, at any rate. Woo hoo!

Now I am wrestling with a short story that I want to extend to novella length.

Two problems.

One, part of my central premise for the story turns out to be unworkable. Apparently you can’t have a kid at a school with a gun without getting legions of police officers involved. Who knew? Probably anyone who watches any of the thousand and one police procedural shows on TV. *sigh*

But there’s another problem too. The story is based on the idea that there are similarities between how gay kids experienced high school back in the eighties, and how trans kids experience it now. It’s an imperfect comparison, but as they say, we are all more alike than we are different, right?

The original short story was told in a back and forth way, the cop and the kid sharing their own experiences. It worked pretty well in the short story format, but it’s not feeling so good for a longer tale. So I decided to pull out both character’s story pieces and put them together, side by side, to see what I had. And it turned out I was telling the cop’s gay high school story A WHOLE LOT MORE than the trans kid’s, which was instructional, to say the least. Author bias, or justb a comfort level with a story so similar to my own, it’s hard to say.

So I’ve been playing around with different story structures.

One idea is to alternate chapters between the two past stories. But somehow this makes both feel really disconnected from one another.

So my second thought is to open with the crisis in prologue, and then essentially just reduce the cop’s scenes to short memory bits and tell the trans kid’s story more completely–which means I have a whole lot less of the story written than I’d thought.

Oh, and the cop’s probably not a cop anymore, and it probably doesn’t take place at school, either – at least, the crisis scene. *sigh*

Hence, the creative destruction. I am ripping this thing to pieces, and have absolutely no idea yet how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. So while I should be moving full-steam ahead–since I have another novel that needs finishing by December 31st–I’m instead stuck in rumination phase on this one.

So my questions to y’all today: Have you ever written a story told in two different but related times? How did you structure it? And do you have any tips for ripping apart a story and sewing it back together so it doesn’t come out sounding like a literary Frankenstein?

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1 thought on “Point of View: Creative Destruction”

  1. A few years ago I started a story set around 1945 with a wraparound prologue set around 1917. The prologue just took over! I didn’t want to give up the “main story” (the ’45 stuff,) and just gave up and drank more beer. I should go back and ditch the 1945 stuff and just write up the 1917 stuff! (I’m stubborn!) Maybe you need to just ditch what isn’t working?

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