Writer’s troubles

16,500 words into “Graveyard Shift” and I’m having trouble. It’s a complicated story with a large cast of unrelated characters, who, through a central mystery, are brought together. I have the ending worked out and in first draft, it seems okay, but the more I work on it in second draft, the more trouble I am having with it, and I can’t quite place my finger on it. That’s what’s frustrating.

I added a character in the second draft because I thought the story lacked some necessary motivation and this character adds that motivation. So far, however, I’ve written only one new section. I also want to do some rewrites of sections of at least one of the existing characters, and that makes me nervous. Rewrites tend to mean I am not entirely comfortable with what I have written and 16,000 words (80 manuscript pages) is a lot to invest not to be comfortable.

I think what I am going to do is take the story as I have it, and outline it on paper. I think that will help me tie the threads together the way I want them, and also make sure the story continues to hold the readers interest throughout. I’m not overly concerned because this is really my first attempt at a story of this length and the only way you learn is through practice. But I thought it would be interesting to provide some insights into what a wannabe writer goes through when constructing a story.

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.