Here’s the deal. I’ve been working recently on a story called The Lighthouse. Not a particularly exciting name, but it’s the best one I can come up with at the moment.
It’s basically complete at around 7500 words. It has a beginning, a middle and an ending. The problem I face (and continue to face) is twofold – I think it takes too long to get to the creepy stuff and is too long full stop AND, what happens towards the end bares little relationship to what happens at the beginning.
The too long stuff is something I’ll have to deal with as I go. I’ve already chopped out a page and a half of really nice, tense writing that added nothing but excess words to the story. The scene had no bearing on the story and was a hold over from the original outline that lingered like a bad smell until I highlighted it and hit delete.
The second problem is much more tricky. In essence, we have two government employees tasked with finding out what has gone on at a lighthouse which is no longer responding to attempts to contact it. A garbled message has been interpreted in a bad light, so the need to get there is urgent. However, the situation they find in the original draft wasn’t foreshadowed in the earlier parts. It was like turning a romance movie into a zombie holocaust blood bath without any warning at all. None.
After some thinking, I thought I’d introduce a new element which I hoped would fix my problem – give one of the characters a drinking problem which related to their time a decade before at the lighthouse, something so traumatic that it turned him to drink. That way, from the beginning of the story, when his younger partner discovers his alcoholism, he could drop cryptic clues about the previous incident, which could then find its full expression when they get to the lighthouse.
All well and good – but the actual implantation that’s turned into a nightmare. I’ve changed the original start twice and am wavering on the efficacy of the new beginning I’ve settled on. Changing the start means I now have to go right through the story (13 pages of Word at the standard font size) and change dialogue, insert more reference to ten years before and hope it all hangs together.
And then I’m going to have to confront the fact that the creepy stuff only really begins half way through. There’s probably too much set up (all nicely written, I assure you) that will need to be sliced and diced. I’m currently in a thicket of words that need a decent pruning and it’s driving me mental. Two hours at it this afternoon and I’m no closer to completion. Aargh.
I do like the story. Like me, it has run a little out of control in certain places, but with a bit of discipline, I reckon I can bang it into decent shape. I’m hoping to be able to submit it in the next week or so to a particular publisher.
Still, it will be a better story than The Interview which in hindsight (and will be the subject of another blog later, I hope) is a pile of steaming shit.