Writing Miasma turned into a huge learning experience. There are some things I am changing for my next story. Some of them are small, and some quite significant. These are the truly vexing issues I wrestled with on Miasma:
Beginnings: If a writer picks up a craft book, the one common piece of advice in every one of them is that we all tend to start our stories too early. From the earliest time on, I read things like, “Cut the first 50 pages to find your beginning” and “Start with the story.” Where other people started 10K ahead of where they were supposed to be, I started 30K+ after where I was supposed to start. Setup came into the story anyway — forced its way really — and crowded other things like themes and subplots out. When I was going through the revision, I even found setup at the end of the story. I discovered that I have a really hard time figuring out where the story should start, and that’s the one thing I need to pay the most attention to.
The second vexing item turned out to be structure. That’s not a topic we find much in craft books. There’s a few that discuss it — one preached about outlines to get structure and was condescending to non-outliners, and another focused more on the detail level, which is one of my weaknesses. After much searching, I finally found something that clicked for me, and it was patterns. I just needed to know what the pattern was of the structure, and I could rearrange scenes to make them fit the pattern and add related scenes (yes, I write weird!).
Next up will things I’m going to do differently on the next project.