I’ve revised “City of Destiny” again. This version is leaner and tighter than it’s ever been. I’m less nervous about this draft than previous ones. Good thing: I’ll be submitting this as part of my writing sample for grad school applications.
a) I knocked out most of the heavy metal thread, as it was cluttering the piece (sorry, Alee! I thank you for your help, I had fun with the research)
b) I 86’ed the previous opener of the art image and checklist – might read as gimmicky
c) I rearranged the order of the dreamlike octopus sequences, italicized them
d) I wrote in a third italicized sequence for the opener, for zing as well as balance (this one about a volcano)
e) I cut a lot of the “Tacoma” exposition, and rewrote the existing bits to emphasize the Eric-Holly dynamic
f) I weaved in a device—a deadline for an art exhibition—to drive the action a bit and to better warrant the telling of the story
g) I changed the ending, giving it a situational irony: Eric has something like catharsis, but is undermined by Holly, who in the last lines becomes a willful saboteur.
One the one hand, I’ve brought the story back in alignment with the thing that drove the original draft from last year, positioning Holly as more of a villain, or at least rival, and giving the story a temporal device—the deadline for the Venice Biennale—to replace the way the diary structure propelled the old story.
I felt like I had the bones of a good story in the last few drafts, but it just wasn’t gelling. The style and tone were right, but didn’t seem inevitable. I had this gut sense that, of all the damn things I’ve been worrying about, maybe it was actually the plot that was languishing. It certainly feels much zippier now, and it doesn’t feel as though I’ve cut off my nose to spite my face here: the parts all seem to be working…
– Eric’s struggle is no longer primarily about whether or not he is an artist, nor whether or not he should leave Tacoma. Eric’s struggle is Holly.
– Holly is allowed to act on her own will, at the end, when she sabotages the octopus (or so Eric reports) as a way to get back at him for destroying her own glass trinkets (what better motivation than tit-for-tat!), and perhaps also as a way to keep him in Tacoma
– The themes of “Tacoma” and “Volcano” is now a bit more in line with the “Relationship between Siblings,” rather than working at cross purposes with that central theme