I'll get this story done if it kills me…

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Sheesh. I've been working on a Clarion story for two weeks solid, most of that brainstorming time. For you Clarionites, it's the circus troupe story. The basic idea is that a far-future circus troupe stumbles across a package containing (insert scary music) the daughter of the city-state's leader. That mystery, the reason behind it, and the ensuing fallout is what the story's about. Man did I have a tough time with it. I tried this way, that way, the other way. I tried upside down, rightside up, well, you get the idea. I kept changing something for (apparently) the better, only to find out that it broke the beginning, or the ending, or the middle, or all frickin three. It was really frustrating.

I'm not sure if it has anything to do with Clarion. Pre-Clarion I might have finished the story and been ok with some loose ends. But I think my standards have increased. Or, in the words of Hemingway, my foolproof bullshit detector has been upgraded. I think that's half of it. I think the other half is that the story was pretty flawed to begin with. It wasn't bad writing, but the rationale behind the mystery needed serious work. And the solution forced me to really expand the world building, character building, relationships, etc. I had to do a fairly deep dive to get the right material and set of circumstances to finish the story. I did end up using a lot of tools from Clarion to do the job. Nancy Kress's world building sheet helped. One of the most useful tools in this slog was Michael Swanwick's relationship diagrams. I drew every character and analyzed their interrelationships. I found some that were weak or nonexistent, beefed them up, and voila, I was on the way to the ending.

I also found myself floudering a bit from all the feedback. I got a *lot* of feedback. Some of it, no matter how creative, ended up sending me in the wrong direction. Other feedback was good, but even if you take two pieces of good feedback, it may not end up helping you because they end up creating a fork in the plot or a character arc. So, learning what feedback to take is definitely a necessary skill in writing.

Anyway, the story's done, and I've sent it off to an anthology. Crossing my fingers that it sells. I'm moving on to the Bee story next…