Here we go again: What We're Writing Week Day 1
HALLIE EPHRON: Sometimes it feels as if I'm writing more when I'm not working on a book than when I am. Advance Readers Copies (ARCs) have just come out for NIGHT NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT, and in the run-up to the book launch in March I'm churning out non-books -- magazine pieces, PR pieces, pieces for which I hope to find a home.
Last time it was my turn on "What we're writing" -- 7(!) weeks ago -- I moaned and groaned about the short story I was trying to write. It's going to be a standalone, a sort of teaser for the new book. And I complained about how hard it is for me to write short. (Not so when I crochet... I started crocheting a blanket and ended up with a pillow.) All in the name of building momentum for the novel.
Back then I posted what **I thought** would be the opening of the story. Now that opening is slumbering peacefully in my OUT file along with vast swaths of that version of the short story which I finished.
Now called PHOTOPLAY, the story is still about a glamorous party Hollywood party in 1963. It’s still about an infamous murder. But I changed the narrator and made it so much better.
And can I just say THIS is why we have writing friends. Hank came to my rescue when I realized that what I'd written was working, sort of, which didn't feel good enough. She suggested: why not make the narrator a character who's not in the book. Someone who can be an observer rather than a player.
And Voila, sleazy paparazzo Duane Foley was born. Here's the old and the new openings side by side. It's not that the new one is so much better than the old, but trust me, it's a much stronger opening to a more compelling story. And hopefully it will leave readers DYING to read the book.
The best thing about a short story is that when you press RESTART, the do-over involves ditching far fewer words than when you decide to start over halfway into a novel. And I didn't ditch it all. I saved that "receding chorus line of sparkling crystal, wall-mounted sconces."
Because some of my darlings I just can't bear to murder.
Is RESTART a dirty word in your vocabulary, or just another day at the office?