“Bright Freedom” Rewrite: The Hard Part

Cover2015July12sI’ve left my story “Bright Freedom” unfinished for a long time. This week I took a stab at a rewrite. I find that the rewrite is harder to do than the first draft.

My first attempt at this story was back in 2010 and early 2011. It was initially a movie script. I didn’t plan to make the movie myself, I thought it as more of a learning exercise.

In 2012 I decided to rewrite it as a novelette. My first draft was largely a conversion of the screen play into a prose format. I finished that in July, 2012. I intended to leave it for a few months and then do a rewrite. It is now just a few days short of three years. A lot has happened in my life since then and that affects the way I look at things.

Part of the reason I have struggled with this story is that the main character is a woman of color. Those of you who know me are aware that I have very little experience with being a woman or of color. I worry that I will completely miss the essence of the character, and offend people with a flat stereotype.

On the other hand, in my story “A Walk in the Snow” (http://www.dynamiclethargyfilms.ca/stories/a-walk-in-the-snow/), the protagonist was a person of color who had immigrated to Canada. I had some positive responses to that from people who had that experience.

Another challenge for me is that the protagonist is strongly motivated to help victims of domestic abuse. That makes me uncomfortable. In my story I use it as a device to motivate the protagonist rather than as a central part of the theme. My story is a sort of action adventure and I worry that will trivialize the problem. On the other hand, I think I portray the protagonist as someone who work to stop it.

I will definitely need to get some feed back from people who can identify with the protagonist and the problems she faces.

I focused on the story outline/structure this week. For me, the most important part of the writing is the outline. That, combined with background information, should take up most of the time.

My first step was to create a new outline from the existing text. It turned out that I had already done that some time ago, which saved me some time. Over the last three years I have learned more about plotting a story. I found that useful when I revised the outline. It was easier to see when the story missed something, and where I had material I should cut.

The outline had 43 scenes to start with, and I ended up with 61. I moved some scenes around to where they made more sense. Some scenes will need to be completely redone.

Another problem I noticed was that when I converted the screenplay, I didn’t change the tense. For example, the text says “She sits down” when it should say “She sat down.” I’ll need to go through the story and fix all of those.

Over the last three years I’ve written a fair number of notes about changes I want to make to the story. Before I go too far, I will want to review those in more detail.

All in all, I have my work cut out from me.

I could use some help to find some people to read a draft of my story. Ideally I need a woman of color who immigrated to Canada and works with domestic abuse victims. So far as I know, I don’t know any

If you can put me in touch with someone who fits this description, I would appreciate it.



  1. Hi James
    How are you my friend.
    As always, I send you and Myreil all my Happy Thoughts.
    I do admire your creativity and thought process.

    As the “press” seems so eager to jump on anyone who describes a character as colored, perhaps you may want to consider a description of African, Mexican, Indo / Canadian or American etc., descent.
    Just a thought. Do keep in touch.
    As Always Your Friend
    Keith D Humphrey

    • Thanks for your thoughts.

      One of the reasons I want to find some beta readers for the story who identify with the character is so I can find out from them what descriptions they prefer.

      I feel that getting into an argument over terminology will divert attention from what I want to say with the story. I was under the impression that “person of color” was acceptable, but I may be wrong about that. In the story I want the character to have a mysterious background, so I wanted a term that was a bit vague.

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