Draft to Final
Sometimes stories just arrive. I imagine a scene – a teen’s bedroom, two best friends – and I begin fleshing out the details.
Are these two popular?
They’re strong characters, although a little shy perhaps; individuals in a world that doesn’t know what to do with different. And then something happens that tips the balance: one of the friends begins to write. The spaces between reality and daydreams are crossed. Insecurities and unspoken feelings twist the expected into…
This is how The True Written Life of Ed Specolta started. Literally, it was me, my laptop and the exact scenario described above. It was a fun story to write because for most of the time I was merely following the characters as they fiddled with the settings of life and responded to the results. The first draft was finished fairly quickly. I put it aside for a while and then came back to it later, curious to see what the story really was.
You see, that’s the difference between a first draft and its rewrite. The first draft brain is allowed free reign; checks are held back and are characters allowed to shift and grow as you get to know them. The rewrite is where the creativity is gently (and sometimes forcefully) pulled into line to allow the good bits to shine. It’s the time to reign in the unnecessary, pare back the clumsy and strengthen the things that make a story worth reading.
For Ed and Mince the rewrite was where the fun really began. It was here that I really noticed the themes that had arisen. There were the expected things: identity, friendship, hopes and dreams. But there were also surprising things: like Minnicent’s grief over her grandmother and her growing feelings for Ed. I hadn’t expected these, hadn’t planned them. But they were interesting and offered a curious depth to the events at play, so I kept them, built on them and allowed them to influence the story at hand.
I think that’s something I like about short stories. They invite us to playfully consider worlds and characters and emotions we hadn’t thought about before. They allow us to raise questions and consider alternative outcomes. They encourage us to weigh our beliefs and values too, both as writers and as readers. I loved what I discovered when I crossed spaces with my characters in this story. I hope readers of the anthology do too.
Maybe one day I’ll write a follow up story, to find out what happens next. Or maybe I’ll just let Ed and Mince figure that one out on their own.