Building With Multiple Stories

THE WRITER - First Draft

‘I should have picked a different character name,’ Jawafra said.

‘Why?’ Fragglet asked. Three of them—a small writing group called The Type-Ohs—all worked on separate pieces in a cocktail lounge in Las Vegas [alt. Small cafe in Paris. Maybe jazz is playing in the background. Note: Research cafes in Paris]. ‘Raquel is a great name.’

‘Yeah. But it keeps trying to autocorrect Paiva. I’m going to have to double-check each instance for Peace or Padre or, if you can believe it, Panache.’

‘That’s why I named the main character in my last story John Smith,’ HM Violet said with a wink.

‘What’s your story about?’ Fragglet asked Jawafra.

‘Well, I’m not quite sure… I want to write about WRITING, you know? To really get inside the process, what it means to put yourself on the line, to dig deep, to bare your chest to the world and say, ‘look at me, see me, all of me, everything I am and am not; All I want to be and cannot!’

‘That sounds amazing. And what are you writing about, HM?’


They both stared.

‘But, I mean, it’s, you know, a Mantis Shrimp.’

They continue to stare.

‘What? I think they’re cool. They punch fast.’

Fragglet turns back to Jawafra. ‘Ok, so, your main character is a writer? That’s ambitious.’

‘How so?’

‘Well, when done right, stories about the craft can be amazing. The Shining. Adaptation. Bowfinger—‘


‘IT HAD ITS MOMENTS! But, anyway, the alternative is that it can come across as too much inside baseball. What you intend to be a love letter to the craft can turn into nothing more than industry-specific schlock.’

‘They punch so fast the water around them boils.’

Jawafra and Fragglet pause, look at HM, then go back to their conversation.

[Consider having HM down an entire cocktail, frustrated by the group’s unwillingness to understand the epic nature of the mantis shrimp. Ooh, or maybe a shrimp cocktail.]

‘Ah, I see what you are saying. Yes, it could be too much like ‘look at poor me, all the things I have to go through for art.’ But, as you two know, it can actually feel like that.’

‘For sure.’


‘So maybe I’ll…’


“I’ll what?” Tom wondered. This was always the sticking point. He had been working on the first draft of ‘The Writer’ for months and always came back to that one moment, that key turning point in the plot: What DOES his main character want to say with the work? What themes matter the most? What message should be conveyed to the reader?

He took a sip of his tepid chai and stared out the window.

It seemed so simple to hoi polloi, this whole ‘noble hobby’ of storytelling. It was anything but. It was brutal, terrible, soul-punishing… at times. At other times, he mused, it was the most rewarding thing ever. It was the speaking into existence of entire worlds—of peoples and magic and drama and love. It was telling the story of a ghost with olive-pimento eyes, a laggard-crowned, Argus-eyed cousin, or the eco-friendly city of Verdigris. It could be the tackling of weighty, difficult topics like love and death and pain, or it could simply be an ode to an old Toyota Camry.

It was, in short, a hint of what it must be like to be The Creator.

He sat back in his chair, ran his fingers through his Fabio-esq mane of sun-kissed hair, and thought about taking the DP1 Gulfstream to Hawaii for the weekend. A chance to clear his head.

He wondered, surveying his empire, what his legions of fans would think if he just opted to stop writing altogether. What would the ‘Nickelheads’ do then?


What a silly name for a group. But he loved it. ‘Heads’ of course being fans; ‘Nickle’ drawn from his last name: Nickelodeon. Tom N for short.

Freshly feeling motivated and determined at the reminder of his vast fan club, he poo-pooed the idea of leaving the ‘war zone’ in the heat of battle and opted, instead, to get back to work. The words weren’t going to write themselves.

At least, not until the next software update.

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