When A Story Doesn’t Quite Work

Sometimes a story doesn’t work. Sometimes I keep characters and situations, and keep rewriting until I find the story that works with the elements that I thought made things special. Sometimes I drive yourself crazy trying to find this story.

That’s what happened with Audrey the hockey player. I love the idea of a daughter hockey player. I’ve dreamed of that since before I saw Inside Out (going on 5 times now). My closest ‘hockey buddies’ are all women, some of them young enough to be my daughter, some of them huge NWHL fans. I’m an NWHL fan, as a concept, the games themselves are a little slow for me. But, I want there to be women NHL players. I want that world. If Brad Marchand and Torey Krug can be NHL players (both are 5’ 9", like me) then women should be able to play too, size isn’t a limiting factor.

I started writing about Audrey as an expression of my dream, and a fatherly love letter to the hockey buddies in my life. Then I kept writing, I needed to get this out of me. I needed to tell a Father/Daughter Hockey story. Sometimes needing isn’t enough.

I don’t think I’m done writing about Audrey, but for now I’m letting these stories and starts of stories sit. I thought I’d share them as examples of something that doesn’t quite work, and how it morphs over time.

There are a few technical things wrong with Game Misconduct chiefly, there isn’t any fighting in girls hockey. Beyond that, most junior hockey players wear full cage facemasks, which makes fisticuffs unlikely.
I wanted to meld an Audrey story into some rumination on the place of fighting in hockey. It’s something that I’m conflicted on, something that’s complicated. It feels like it needs its own story. Still, this is where tall Audrey came from. I love this piece for that. I love the idea of a young woman who idolizes Chara.

This worked better than my first take. I found the beats and finished the story, even if it is a little thin. Exploring stereotypes of conservatives aunts and girls in masculine roles sounded good in my brain. It probably still is. Aunt Helen isn’t enough of a villain though, more of a catalyst, and she deserves better.
The Teddy Bear Toss is a real thing in Waterloo/Cedar Rapids, and a joy to go to. Pulling that in seemed fun. It probably needs to be expanded as well. Moving past childish things (Chara Bear) seemed like a good beat too, again not fully realized.

I started ‘She Came Home Quiet’ after finding Unsplash.com. I looked through the pictures there and wanted to write a story around one. I wasn’t done with Audrey apparently, because she slid right into this story as well. Sexual Assault loomed large while I wrote this one. That seems like a father’s nightmare for a college age daughter, at least to me. It’s been a constant drip through my media streams too (I follow a lot of feminists) so I was dancing around that idea as I wrote this. I chickened out and changed the reveal to a miscarriage and concussion. Concussion in hockey is another beat that’s worth writing about.
This story could have just been about recovering from a concussion and would have been fine. Miscarriage, unexpected pregnancy, college athletics has some material to be mined as well. It feels rushed though. There needs to be a few more scenes to established Audrey’s depression, and the father’s struggle about what to do about it. I’m getting a little burnt out on trying to push this story though. I’ll probably mine these three for the interesting nuggets on more focused stories.

Thanks to @asmeen_t, @mkmolnar, @auwcuu, and Sunita Chacko for providing inspiration for women in hockey, and a female perspective that’s always in my stream, and in my face.

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