Since returning from Salem the only writing I’ve managed are four articles for HAND/EYE. Otherwise, with the exception of the previous blog post, I haven’t written a word for Julius.

I love my story, the quirky characters, especially the relationship between Corinne and Alvah, but I’m stuck. The middle sags so much that it needs more than just sucking in—I’m considering liposuction and Biggest Loser bootcamp.

There are a couple of issues going on between me and the story. First, I absorbed so much information during those five days at the UnCon that it was overwhelming. There’s quite a bit in Julius that works, but there’s also a lot that doesn’t. If I change one aspect how much will that change the story? A lot? A little? Or will it still remain the same and continue to have the same or even more problems?

I spent seven years reworking the damn story and when I question certain elements—more often than not—my answer is, “I don’t know how I change this. It’s out of control.”

Suffice it to say when I returned home and reviewed the manuscript, I faced a deluge of “It’s out of control” and that’s when I questioned if I could ever finish this blasted novel and leave readers wanting more from yours truly.

No joke here, but I had some serious doubts.

After three weeks, I decided to set aside Julius—not abandon it—but work on something different. Something that would have a broader appeal with themes that my audience could indentify and question. But what? That was the potential six figure advance question. What did I have in my arsenal that could make this a story I wanted to write, keep me and potential readers interested?

In my old Scrivener files, I found an outline to a story I fiddled with three years ago; it was supposed to be bonafide tear jerker, but I hated the protagonist. Cold, unsympathetic, bitchy. Who would care about her if I disliked her so much? I filed it way and forgot about it until recently.

Reviewing the notecards, I knew there wasn’t anything worth saving except three characters. I spent about a week wondering if I had anything to work with and then I recalled that one of the main characters—loosely based on a Hungarian actor who had a series of career setbacks—had been orphaned during WWII. That was all I knew and that’s when I allowed my imagination to soar.

I asked many “What ifs” that led me in several directions. When I discovered the kernel of a story that made me to want more, I began to narrow the themes I wanted to explore. More what ifs followed that eventually introduced a new character whose voice needed to be heard. Another discovery: the story needed to be told from three different view points.

My reaction? Excitement. I’m chomping at the bit to get started.

What if. . . what if. . . what if? Who knew those two words would lead to so many possibilities.