Stories are destined to change in the midst of their creation; sometimes we need to learn how to let go of our original concept, and ride the current of our words. No matter what my original idea might have been, I find that in the midst of writing, the story takes on a shape of its own, leading me to new possibilities. By allowing myself to follow the flow, it frees me to play with my words, setting, characters and point of view. My core idea might remain the same, but the ending I envisioned has somehow shifted in the course of my work – usually for the better. The joy of writing is that it constantly surprises us. It is never sedate, it is always shifting, and I love to test the limits of my first drafts.
The Last Cigarette started out as a thriller. Born from a photograph of an apartment building in New York, it went through a myriad of transformations in two years. The basic plot was still intact, but I played with different points of view, action, dialogue, and switched the sex of my characters. I loved watching how the story changed when a male became a female or vice versa. At one point, I had three versions of the story and each one disclosed a new route to follow. The completed version had transformed from a thriller to crime fiction. This wasn’t in my original plan, but it turned out to be perfect.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.