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  • Writer's pictureRobert Lynch

Everything takes longer than I'd like

I'm writing a story called 'The Case of the Girl in the Box' as a free piece when people sign up to my email list. The story was supposed to be around 5,000 words. It's currently more than 6,000 words, and I'm only about a third of the way through. I want the story to be the best I can write now—a good advertisement for the rest of my work. And so, it is on its fifth draft.

I laid out the first draft more than a year ago. I knew what was going to happen in the story. So I made a brief outline to follow along with. Then I wrote something bland and dry and had too much exposition about the world and not enough information about the characters. I was more focused on building the world than writing a good story. And when I read it back, I was discouraged. This was supposed to be a good example of my writing; instead, I got sidetracked.

Tweaking here and there did not fix the story. Adding in content did not make it feel any more balanced. The story's focus was on the world and not the characters, and so long as it was, it did not work. It's a detective story, and the world was the main character, not the detective.

I first started writing stories in this world when I was 15. I've spent a lot of time daydreaming in this world, creating characters, lore, species, spaceships, new physics, and even pets. I want the stories set in this world to seem full and real. Yet I fell into an age-old scifi writer trap. I spent more time writing about the scifi than I did the characters.

Even in the fourth draft, I did not have a balanced story. Detective stories are about justice. They centre on whether or not justice will be done in the world. Noir stories are set in an unjust world. The characters that populate noir worlds have been shaped by the worlds they live in. The detective must see the path to justice, even if it is not done. The reader must be shown the truth of the world, even if that truth is kept from the characters.

Draft 5 is coming along well. The writing of it feels different than the previous drafts, like I'm putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The previous drafts felt like it was different puzzles mixed together.

I've been trying to focus all my energy on this story, and I've used that as an excuse to stop doing regular content. That was supposed to be a short break, and it hasn't turned out to be. So I'm going to start regular content again. The daily deadlines are good for keeping me writing regularly even if I'm stuck on something else, so I will get back into it.

Unfortunately for me, everything takes longer than I'd like.


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