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I had a strange thought yesterday as I walked home, if someone broke into my apartment and stole my computer and flash drives and external hard drive how would I rebuild my novel.

And then my brain did the weirdest thing – it went: if you had to start from scratch what elements of your story would you keep? And my head has not stopped spinning since I thought that.

So here is what I know.

I love my main character, Tad. He is feisty and goofy and simply trying to make sense of this strange situation that his family secrets have landed him in. His brother is a bit of a selfish jerk, but redeemable. His grandfather, Richard, intrigues me and I know that I need to do more with him. I love the idea that they all have secrets and that the fall out of those secrets is going to take them on a wild ride.

I dislike the crazy convoluted societal structure that I created, perhaps because it is so undefined and because it changes with every chapter. Maybe that is why I am so stuck with the world building.

I dislike the prologue I wrote – because it feels like it should be the end.

And I keep going back to that question: if I had to build the story from scratch how would I build it?

I read somewhere that the first draft is for the writer to get to know the characters and uncover their stories. The second draft is for the writer to tell those stories to the readers. Or at least it was some version of that.

That leaves me here, sitting with a yellow legal pad, trying to ignore what I thought was my outline and trying to determine – what is the story that Tad wants told?