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Writing Where It Hurts

It is no secret that writing good stories is not as easy as many people believe it is. If translating your thoughts into words isn’t hard enough, the first draft is followed by numerous rewriting and editing rounds. A writer revisits every one of their stories ad nauseam before – and if – it ever sees publication.

What happens if a story is particularly painful to write?

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The “Monsters” Selection Procedure

In an earlier post, I told you about the desire for diversity that spawned the idea of The Kalbrandt Institute Archives, and how this led to Eva’s explorations forming the framework for the memories she retrieves from the files in the archive.

Each file has its own cast and setting in time and space, but each book has a central theme. Since there are so many different monsters, ghosts, intriguing artefacts and mysterious monuments, how could I possibly select just one over all the others?

I can’t. So instead of choosing one, I choose five.

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From The Archives: F/25852/YA

The bead ran a ragged pattern across the sheet, then spelt L, U, I with individual letters.

‘“Lui”? “Him”?’ He frowned. Him and you, the same person? Couldn’t be, since he wasn’t dead. Unless… unless this had nothing to do with him.

He scanned the writing on the sheet again. All words, all phrases were either written in first person, or in the formal second person. Je, moi, mon, vous, votre, etc. But there was no reference to a third person, or to anyone who was not part of the conversation.

Yet the bead was trying to refer to someone other than him or the ghost moving the bead. A third person.

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Structuring the Archives

Impatient as I am, I created The Kalbrandt Institute Archives series to cover as many subjects as possible within one project. As a consequence, the classic story structure doesn’t work.

The standard 3-act (or 5-act, if you prefer) story arc is designed for a single plot with subplots. When you weave multiple plots together, you have to switch focus between them. Just look at Game of Thrones.

But where the Game of Thrones intersects the plots, permitting a classic structure for each plot in itself, the stories from the archives were going to be stand-alone stories that do not touch on one another. Their only link – at least initially – is be Eva, who reads them.

All Plots Are Equal

Assembling apparently unrelated stories into a single, coherent story is a unique challenge. The answer, however, was obvious:

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Why I created the Kalbrandt Institute

When I turned my writing hobby into my profession, I faced a precarious situation for a writer. Because from thereon out, I needed to create projects I would want to stick with until the bitter end.

A prickly problem indeed. Over the decades, I have always had too many story ideas. Furious scribbling to keep up with the plot bunny farm spewing subjects, themes, characters and settings earned me a hard drive full of unfinished stories, but little else. Deciding to write for publication didn’t change that.

I’m also terrible at choosing one thing when I see a way to have my cake and eat it… Cue maniacal laughter!