I feel like I’m telling this story to myself, over and over again, with each outline. New details get filled in, new connections appear, with each telling.
And each day I get up and tell it to myself another time, adding more pieces.
I so much want to just write, just set the words down on the page and let them fall where they may.
But then I’ll be plotting out the second third of the story, and I’ll have an idea that ripples all the way back to the beginning. And it makes me glad I haven’t started writing anything more than snippets of dialog just yet. Because all of those snippets will likely need to change.
This story…It’s more complicated than other short stories I’ve written. Less straightforward.
It’s a five-part structure. One part setup, followed by three parts flashbacks (taking place over years and across continents), followed by a climax. And it all needs to hang together like a coherent whole, present flowing to flashbacks and then returning to the present.
I’m not sure I can pull it off, to be honest. I’ll have to do a good bit of research for each flashback, just to ground them in reality. Then there’s the problem of each flashback needing to be its own story, complete with character arc, while feeding into the larger narrative.
It’s like writing four stories at once, really, with them nested inside each other.
Will it all make sense, in the end? Will the flashbacks prove to be too long, and need culling? Will my framing device be so transparent that it’s boring? Will the conclusion be a big enough payoff?
All I can do is tell myself the story, piece by piece, over and over again, until I can see it all clearly.