When I decided that I was pretty sure that I would go back to work on VZ, I started asking myself a lot of questions about what was wrong with the 20+ other versions I’d written over the years. There were a lot of things. Everyone in the book was too nice. The main character talked to himself and “thought” everything instead interacting with people. I had a mom that did nothing, added nothing to the story and another character that asked questions I never answered. It was FILLED with cliches. Oh and plot? Barely visible.

So I killed off the mother and brought the stuff that happens with questioning character to the front of the book. I kept the planes and the dog and the cross-county move but I lost the orchestra and maybe the fire. I think I’m keeping the gang but they need some help and a name.

I gave the main character a little sister but I needed something to weave her deeper into the story, something to connect her to her brother at the same time as it pushes her away. And last night, after many hours of not being able to sleep, I figured out what that is. Oh my. It excited me so much I wanted to get up and write but I knew the alarm for work would go off in a few hours and I needed sleep. Which was a joke because of course my mind was racing with the possibilities of what this could do to the plot. And I barely slept at all. And then today, after brainstorming with a friend, I realized I could add another layer (and take advantage of some great research that has been sitting in my drawers for 15 years).  Whew!

Exciting stuff. Now if I can just get the darn thing written. And after all these years with the book I never really could tell anyone what it was about. Obviously I didn’t know the story very well or wasn’t telling the right story. But now I know the basic theme. And feels right.

What makes a family and when is it okay to keep a secret?