I’ve been really struggling in my attempts to redraft short stories recently. I can sit down and write one without much trouble. I can even usually work in a pretty good twist at the end without even thinking about it. However, once I’ve got that first draft on the page I have no idea what to do with it.
So, I turn to the internet to help me. Reading about how other people write short stories is great, but they never really go into minute detail about how to go about re-drafting one so that each word truly contributes to the story you are trying to tell.
I have a rough draft of the story all written out. I know who my protagonist is, I know who the rest of the cast consists of. I know what happens to prompt the story and I know how I want it to end. I even have some good examples of showing elements of each character rather than just telling. I know I have conflict and, at the end, resolution and reversal. I know what point of view the story would work best in.
But I am beginning to wonder if it is a worthwhile story at all. I don’t seem to be capable of reworking it into what I envisaged the story could be.
And the crux of the issue – the thing I am missing?
I could not define what my story is about without actually telling the story. As such, my story has no purpose. I know that there is a message in there somewhere, waiting to unfold. My protagonist makes that journey of self-discovery and ends up the better for it. Yet, what I have not succeeded in identifying is a theme; something that ties it all together, that gives the story a reason to be told. Without that it is just words on a page.
So, here I go in search of my story’s theme. If I can find it, perhaps all the words will finally stitch themselves together and make something worthwhile. If I can’t find it…well, then perhaps that signifies that this story wasn’t meant to be told.