I’m (slowly, oh so painfully slowly) writing a new story. It’s another post-apocalyptic tale. I write one or two of them a year. One of the things that happens when the first draft emerges slowly is I start discovering all of the different stories that can emerge from the initial idea.
I start in one place and, 5 or 7 pages in, realize that opening scene might actually be the middle. Or it might be a moment that doesn’t belong in the story at all, because it’s actually about this backstory scene that I thought was just a page or two but is resonating like crazy and feels more alive than the supposed main story. Characters that I thought were important might disappear. Ones I had no idea were there might pop into existence and take over. The protagonist’s arc might turn into spaghetti and twist around in surprising ways.
This can become super distracting, of course. It can be hard to tell if it’s the editor voice intruding too early or the artist voice coming up with some great idea on the fly that need to be pursued. I’ve been leaning towards the latter. Sort of feels like I’m holding a divining rod, looking for water.
Except I’m looking for the story.
It’s in here somewhere.