Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When Stories Stall

I had a very emotional experience last summer while in France. We visited an American cemetery where soldiers who died in France during WWII are buried. I knew that I had to write a story about the visit and what occurred that day.

It stayed in my mind during the rest of the trip, even talked with the WWII veterans in our tour group to get their thoughts on the ceremony that took place at the cemetery. I thought about it on the long plane trip back to the USA.

I thought about it while doing all the catching up there is to be done after a three week absence from home. And finally, I had a free day and could begin to get the story down in actual words. I worked on it and deleted half, then rewrote and set it aside for a few days as the story didn't flow on the computer screen as it did in my head.

After yet another rewrite, I sent it to my critique group hoping they'd be thrilled with the story. Of course, they weren't. They liked the idea of the story but they pointed out one failing after another.
Deflated, I looked at the story through their objective eyes and knew they were right. I hadn't been able to get the 'emotion' across, hadn't left the reader with a reason for the story. I attempted another revision, but it wasn't working either. The  story was stalled. Bigtime!

I put it in a file and there it's stayed for many months. I told myself that, when the time was right, I'd work on it again. During the past week with the build-up to Memorial Day and the day itself, the stalled story keeps popping into my head. I think maybe it's time to pull it out and either revise what I have or start from scratch. It might be a good story for Veterans Day in November, so it needs to get worked on now.

When a story stalls, put it away and go back to it later. You'll know when the time is right. Those unfinished stories have a way of callling out to us. I only hope that this time I can make readers feel what I felt when in France.

1 comment:

  1. Nancy, I remember when you mentioned an experience in France and I waited for a story, wondering when it would appear. Now I know. And I also know you will work on it until it is as you wish. Better late than never, as they say. I have a feeling it will be worth the wait. Your stories always are.