What is the premise of your story? Describe it using the what-if formula by replacing the parentheses with details from your story: “What if a (flawed) (protagonist) (encountered some problem) and had to (overcome the flaw) to (solve the problem)?”
Steve Alcorn, Write Fiction Like a Pro
What if a ( stubbornly but inconsistently persistent/ easily distracted/ overly pessimistic/ unrealistically optimistic/ only theoretical/ short-tempered/ self-doubting/ continually reinvented) (writer/ gardener/ bicyclist/ beekeeper someday/ city planner/ personified city/ nation as a whole) (crashed in the stock market/ suffered colony collapse/ had her garden destroyed/ saw her family scatter/ lost her way/ lost her cool/ lost her marbles/ lost her car keys) and had to (get focused/ give up/ persist/ get busy/ speak out/ count to ten/ push ahead/ stick with what she’s got/ tighten her belt) in order to (save the day/ save the date/ balance the budget/ revive the local economy/ rebuild the garden walkway/ build the city on the hill/ feed the family/ finish up this blasted bottle-necking book)?
How’s that for a promising new premise?
By the way, have I ever mentioned that my house has no front door?
The door that looks like a front door, acts like a front door, is called the Front Door, is in fact on the back of the house.
It’s the door closest to the kitchen — furthest from the driveway — what in any reasonable house would be the Back Door.
Before I realized what was so nigglingly wrong with this house — i.e. that there was no real front to it, that it was always turning its back on you no matter how you circled to approach it — before I took steps to more clearly signal — by fiat if not in facto — which door was “Front Door” — people never knew where to come. They’d knock at the laundry door or come to the sliding glass door downstairs instead.
Are we surprised that I live in a backward and resistant house?
Though it galls to admit, I must have chosen this unreasonable, refusal-to-face roundaboutedness because it felt so terribly familiar.
I always come in the back door.
I’m happiest living halfway up, halfway down the hill.
Coming at things indirectly is the way I feel most at home.
Maybe next week I’ll get back to straightforward Small Town Revival – which series I am (usually, most days) burning to explore and for which I have posts sketched out from here to October.
This week however, I’m spending my mornings taking my first fearful-of-breaking-eggshells-abandoned-out-of-cowardice-plus-my-own-inability-to-structure-it novel through an online writing course focusing on Structuring the Long Form — which is embarrassing — true literature ought to just come on wings, not be written by numbers — but I’ve got to get this thing out of the nest and winging away from me.
While my afternoons are all pick-axing clay, toting rock and gravel, and dumping wheelbarrows — sweating it out while my lemon-scented Mexican marigolds and beautiful cabbage grow steadily, fearlessly, and unself-consciously (despite deer and moles). And are beautiful as well as useful.
Whatever else it might be, this garden-making, garden-remaking is so wonderfully comforting that . . . if you don’t mind, I think I’ll get back to it now . . .