While most of my fellow East Block Irregular passed a writing weekend together in Ottawa, I was with my wife and in-laws at their cottage north of the city.
Though I was able to spend some time writing, a weekend at the cottage is a challenge. There’s chores to be done—packing and unpacking, preparing and cleaning up meals, and you always leave the cottage how you found it, so lots of vacuuming and sweeping. Not to mention chatting, lounging and enjoying each others’ company.
What’s more, the Victoria Day long weekend is always a work weekend. Putting the dock in the lake, mowing the grass, trimming branches, dusting, hauling, washing.
However, thanks to the lousy weather, I was able to get in about 5 hours revising “The Leaving,” a short story I have been working on for some time. It was first written a year ago and I always had a few niggling doubts about it, which were confirmed by some personalized rejections.
So, I decided to revise it. While I kept the plot the same, I replaced the two main characters. Even though I think the story and its themes are stronger, placing two new characters in a series of events designed for others introduces some Rube Goldberg plot mechanic challenges: why did that character say that? Why did she react that way? Why does he arrive when he does? And since this is a horror story, why don’t they get the hell away from the monster?
The result of the re-write is a lot of back story I needed to work out for myself, and then trimming as much of it away as I can without confusing the reader. So that’s how I spent my writing time—reading and re-reading, consolidating and revising info dumps so they don’t seem so expository, replacing “tell” with “show” (and sometimes “show” with “tell” if it’s not important and saves a lot of useless words) and giving characters distinct voices.
The story is around 5.5K words right now, but feels a bit heavy. I hope to have to trimmed down to size this week, followed by some “desk time” and another review late next week.
I hope all of you have a great long weekend. The Canada Day long weekend is only six weeks away!