So, yeah, this current short story. I had 3,500 words that I knew hit a lot of the plot points I wanted to hit, but represented two different approaches to hitting them. Both of which didn’t quite work. But they were helping me solidify my thoughts on how the story should go, so I went with each one until it was clear that approach couldn’t carry me through the whole story.
Now I’ve figured out the problem–what about this story I found compelling and therefore whose perspective matches up with that compulsion. The thing is that I am pretty much obsessed with the past–its effects on us, how little of it we know relative to how much influence it has on us, the struggles to even understand what we do know, etc. You read me. You know.
So, I had been trying out telling the story from a limited third-person point of view both from the perspective of the hero and of the villain. But part of why it wasn’t working is that they’re both old. And, frankly, people who think they know better than you their own interpretations of history and then try to force them on you as the only interpretation are, at best, tedious. No one wants to read a story that’s basically “I know so much more than this other character. How can I teach this other character everything she needs to know in time?!” At least I don’t. Because part of the thing about history is that it’s like your grandmother’s jewelry box. Everything’s in there, but what you find valuable–what you pick up and put down–changes depending on your needs.
So, obviously, the compelling perspective is from the person who must do the sorting for herself.
I struggled for weeks to get those first 3,500 words, but I have gotten this 3,000 in two days.