It took all semester to chip away at it, but the last step of my Steeplechase is finally complete! Just over forty pages, it consists of eleven successive scenes of story, each written in a different form:
1. a third person POV
2. a first person POV
3. a summary
4. an opposite character’s POV
5. a how-to essay
6. a strong overall storyteller POV
7. a newspaper interview
8. a scene of dialogue
9. a dream sequence
10. a scene written parodying Jack Kerouac’s style, and finally,
11. A last scene back in the original POV.
The rule is that each scene must push forward; that even though you can (and should) make narrative leaps, there should be a story arc throughout. Now that it’s FINALLY finished, my professor wants me to rewrite it—this time, as an actual story. Part of me is so sick of it that I just want to walk away from it for awhile, but the other part of me wants to sit down and write it while all its possibilities are still fresh in my mind (and also because the finished product is due in three days).
When I go to do my rewrite, I’m probably going to cut at least half of the steps, but I still feel that the Steeplechase has been time well spent, since I know this story intimately from all sides, I know the best vantage point to write from, and I know what all my characters are thinking and feeling even if those feelings aren’t going to explicitly make the cut onto the page.
If you’ve got a LOT of free time to spare, and you’re stuck on a particular piece, I highly suggest trying to steeplechase it, at least for a few steps. It will help you to discover story possibilities you didn’t know were there.
Back to the drawing board I go…