I’ve been trying to write a short story on a specific subject and struggling. I found it easier to not write than try to keep moving the story forward. That should have been my first warning sign that something was wrong. Unfortunately it took me a couple more days before it dawned on me: I didn’t like the story I was trying to tell.
At first I considered moving on to some other project altogether. But then I stepped back and looked at the idea I’d been trying to write. If I didn’t want to write the story then I clearly didn’t like the story I was trying to tell. The trouble is, I’ve been trying to come up with a decent idea for some time, and I really didn’t want to go back to the drawing board.
Then I had an idea: could I tell the same story, only from another angle–one that could be more interesting? My original idea was about someone trying to escape from the repercussions of something they had done. What if I instead told the story of someone who ends up apprehending that person? Suddenly the story got a lot more interesting. Now I’m writing a new draft, and I’m enjoying it much more.
Sometimes we forget that there is more than one way to tell a story. If we’re struggling to get a story out, perhaps it’s because we are telling the story from the wrong perspective. Is there someone else related to the story who would have a more interesting take on events?
Such thinking is the driving force behind many of the “re-imagined fairy tale” novels that are popular these days. Orson Scott Card sold a book that turned into a series covering much the same events as one of his earlier best sellers from the perspective of one of the minor characters. It’s not a new concept, certainly, but it can give new life to your story.
It’s easy to get into the rut of thinking there is only one way to tell a story. So long as that one way is sufficiently interesting, that’s not necessarily a problem. But sometimes the rut is also a dead-end. That’s when it can be helpful to step back and look for a new angle.