Too Much of This Story Sucks

I’ve been working on a story off and on for months now. The basic story is finished, but there’s one problem.

I don’t like it.

There are a few pieces that I think are great, but there are too many weak spots where the story sort of drags. My process for fixing something like this is to isolate those sections from the rest of my notes and toss around the old “what if” questions. I really like the part about the alligator because it’s fun and unexpected, but the two predicaments my main character is in prior to that are lifeless. I might be able to improve the second one, but the first should probably hit the circular file.

When writing a picture book, the basic rule is that the story happens in a series of three.  For instance, in my story When the Poor Man Danced, the bad guy goes to a wizard three times to obtain a spell that he hopes will enable him to stop his poor neighbor from being so happy all the time.  Each attempt fails; and in the end, the bad guy gets his comeuppance in a strange way.  In Wombat Wings, a kookaburra convinces a young wombat that he should be able to fly.  The wombat makes three different attempts and fails, finally realizing, “I’ve never heard of a sillier thing than a wombat who needs wombat wings.” 

You can see my Stories category for more, but you get the idea. 

So I have to rework the first two obstacles my character faces, building on the difficulty with each one.  I seem to have fallen into the much-hated trap of just putting the main character into a series of situations instead of having her live in a story. I have a great deal of work ahead of me on this, but I’m not the type of writer who dreads the rewrite.  I do have a story premise, a character I like, and a potentially good ending that still needs a little punch.  Something to work with. 

If you’ve been following this blog, you know I’ve been struggling with this story for a while.  There were times when I thought I had made great progress and nearly nailed it, but rereading it a few days later made its weaknesses obvious.  Writing for children means the story is shorter, but the struggles to get it right are pretty much the same as for any other writer in any other genre. 

I do love this stuff.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mlrover
    Sep 01, 2014 @ 17:37:38

    When this happens to one of my stories, I have to set it aside, sometimes for months, and start another book. When the frustration is out of my system, I go back and can read it with fresh perspective. Just sayin’ but it might work for you.


    • MJ Belko
      Sep 01, 2014 @ 17:40:15

      Regrettably, I’ve done this a few times with this story already. In the meantime, something completely different popped into my brain, so I may set it aside yet again. I’m too stubborn to kill it just yet!


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