When I began a short story in 2000, I discovered the idea I had of a modern Swiss youth returning to the 14th century to prevent the legend of Wilhelm Tell was too complex to be contained in a few thousand words. I overcame that stumbling block by thinking in terms of scenes within chapters. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing process until I reached chapter eight where I encountered my 2nd stumbling block.
In chapter eight my hero rode on his motorbike across a fallow field on his father's farm. (I love the sound of 'fallow field' and I owned a farm at the time so I was complying with the rule 'write what you know'). The story hit a brick wall. Even my writers' crit group couldn't give me reasonable suggestions. One critiquer said, quite facetiously I thought, ''You've dropped the reins." There was only one thing for it. Ditch the story and ditch the group. But I did decide that one day I would visit my setting and start again. Problem was, I lived in
Australia and I'd set my story in . Switzerland
My chance to visit
and the Uri canton came in 2004 when my husband and I took our 14 year old granddaughter, Sara, with us. She knew about my hero, Stefan, and how he loved his homeland, but needed to get away because his parents didn't understand him. Sara didn't like Switzerland at all. The mountains were too high, there might be an avalanche, she felt claustrophobic. And, I realized that in this area where W.Tell lived, in the foothills, there were no fallow fields, no farms. I saw a guest house, hotel, church and museum instead. Houses looked like brown dots on the mountainside. So I faced my 3rd stumbling block. Switzerland
However this stumbling block and my granddaughter's attitude transformed my book. I came home and wrote about a different Stefan, an innkeeper's son, with a different reason for wanting to escape. He wanted to escape the narrow confines of his Swiss Alpine home and become like the tourists who came to the guesthouse.
So, I took up the reins again and rejoined my on-line crit group. 117,000 words later I typed 'The End,' but have since polished The Unhewn Stone back to 93,000 words. I wanted to thank that crit- partner who caused me to stop writing when I did, but he was no longer participating in the group. If you are out there, Clive, thank you!
Incidentally, I did find use for 'the fallow fields' in this novel, but they belonged to a castle in the 14th century.