Slumming It: When a Short Story is the Bane of Your Existence

Not every story comes easy...

Have you read The Slumlord? Maybe you have, or maybe you jumped on here, saw two updates and decided to read this. You’ll notice some extra pages below, where I have included an unfinished draft. By all means, read this article before reading the story, but please don’t go beyond this page until then. The draft pages, quite frankly, are shit. You might think the final story is shit, too, but I promise you it’s not as shit as the original draft.

The final version of The Slumlord totals 13,312 words—pretty long for a short story which blew out to more than I was expecting. The original draft, though, is just 7,854 words. I never finished writing it, because it was just dragging on and going nowhere. If you think 13,000 words is ridiculous, that’s a fair point. But it’s not as ridiculous as if I’d continued, where I’m guessing the end result would be hovering closer to 20,000 words.

So, what went wrong?

The major thing that went wrong is that I pantsed it. For those unaware of what pantsing is, essentially, rather than plotting out your story before writing it, you fly by the seat of your pants, making it up as you go. That’s my “process” (or laziness, you be the judge). In this instance, it resulted in me waffling on, and the story losing sight of its goal. As I rewrote it, I used the original draft as my guide, as if I’d plotted it first.

What’s so different?

The first major difference you’ll notice is that the final draft is written in the first person. In the third, it was a dry read, and frankly, a slog to get through. By changing this to the first person, I not only brought life to the protagonist, Detective Jon Bakker, but also the other characters and the world.

Is it the same story?

Essentially, yes. If you go on to read the pages after this, you’ll see a very similar storyline. At the point of the first draft, some elements still hadn’t been figured out regarding the Slumlord. There was also going to be more betrayal, a ton of twists and more craziness that would have blown the story out from what it was intended to be: short (and I still essentially failed to meet the brief).

It doesn’t sound like you changed much.

Eh, not really


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