The Bitter Buffoon – The Process

The Bitter Buffoon is story number two in the #52ShortStories challenge.

Challenge is certainly the right word. I took a week off from work for “vacation,” and this threw off the routine (in the most wonderful way, of course – fun times with friends and family, plus Angus’s 3rd birthday).

The inspiration for this story seemed to unconsciously come from a National Geographic article based on the idea of humans driving their own evolutionary advancement. It mentioned the CRISPR project which essentially is a method in which specific genes can be targeted and permanently modified.

I had read the article earlier in the week, but as you’ll see in my mind map, the influence wasn’t direct. It even hopped off from the title of a Dostoyevsky book. I love stuff like this!

Obviously, the impact of something like CRISPR on society is huge. I went about my usual process to pull out a story. I’ll acknowledge that with my modified schedule, I simply didn’t put in the required time to really dig into this. I feel like I could have made this story so much more, but I was worried that if I let it get away from me, I wouldn’t be able to wrap it up within a week. I suppose that’s one of the challenges of writing short stories: it forces us to be concise.

Anyway, I hope some of you enjoyed it. It was good for me to write this for two main reasons:

  • As a way of building the habit of buckling down when time is short. Come Sunday morning, I knew I had to wrap it up no matter what.
  • There was a point where I hit a major roadblock which I had to fight through. I had no idea what to write, so I had to really explore why that was. You can see this in my daily journals linked below in this post. I finally realized that my protagonist lacked an immediate goal. This was an “a-ha” moment that hit me while I was folding laundry. Once I knew what was wrong, I simply brainstormed a little more and was able to get past the block.

Here’s the mind map:

The general scratch file:

The daily journal entries:

Let me know in the comments or through a tweet if you find these process recaps useful. I’m certainly gaining a lot by writing them.


7 thoughts on “The Bitter Buffoon – The Process

  1. Phillip, I’ve just come across your posts around 52 in 52. I think this was an awesome idea, and i’m glad to hear you got so much from it. As a dad with a full time job (and Multiple Sclerosis!), it’s good to hear that it can be done. I’m not sure if 52 is realistic for me, but perhaps a story every 2 weeks is doable. I love the way you presented the stories, along with your process and mind maps. did you post the stories each week along with the process and journal updates?

    1. Hi Steve! Thank you kindly for the comment and taking the time to visit!

      Yes, I started out posting a story a week along with the process/journal info, but soon found myself accelerating the writing process as I fell behind due to illness and other familial obligations. All par for the course when you consider this taking place over 52 weeks!

      And I hear you on finding the time, and you certainly have the physical issues that I don’t have to deal with either. I think it’s great you’re even considering it as I’ve found a lot of folks dismiss the idea out of hand (like I did initially). But I found it an amazing way to not only build the habit of writing regularly, but increasing the ability to shut down that nagging critical voice who pops up all the time.

      Please keep me posted if you decide to take the plunge! I’d love to follow your journey.

      1. Thanks for the reply! Did you do any self editing as you wrote? I am thinking that I would put a rough first draft down, then come back to the stories later to pick out the ones that worked and improve them with editing. Perhaps even giving readers the opportunity to say which ones are worth reviewing?

        1. So I do some light editing as I write. I basically follow what Dean Wesley Smith calls cycling (see here – and it seems to work best for me. I was never happy with the rough draft and revisit method, but I’ve learned that whatever works for you is the best method. 🙂

          Out of curiosity, how did you stumble upon my little experiment?

          1. I read a guest post you wrote on Lauren Sapala’s blog called ‘52 leaps of faith ‘ which led me to your site. I’m reading my way through the stories and associated extras

          2. How cool! Lauren is fantastic and such an inspiration. Thanks for sharing the info. If you have any question at all on writing, etc, don’t hesitate to ask.

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